Blind Huber

Overview

Award-winning poet Nick Flynn takes readers into the dangerous and irresistible center of the hive

I sit in a body & think of a body, I picture

Burnens' hands, my words

make them move. I say, plunge them into the hive,

& his hands go in.

—from "Blind Huber"

Blindness does not deter François Huber—the eighteenth-century beekeeper—in ...

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Overview

Award-winning poet Nick Flynn takes readers into the dangerous and irresistible center of the hive

I sit in a body & think of a body, I picture

Burnens' hands, my words

make them move. I say, plunge them into the hive,

& his hands go in.

—from "Blind Huber"

Blindness does not deter François Huber—the eighteenth-century beekeeper—in his quest to learn about bees through their behavior. Through an odd, but productive arrangement, Huber's assistant Burnens becomes his eyes, his narrator as he goes about his work. In Nick Flynn's extraordinary new collection, Huber and Burnens speak and so do the bees. The strongest virgin waits silently to kill the other virgins; drones are "made of waiting"; the swarm attempts to protect the queen. It is a cruel existence. Everyone sacrifices for the sweet honey, except the human hand that harvests it all in a single afternoon.

Blind Huber is about the body, love, and devotion and also about the limits of what can be known and what will forever be unknown. Nick Flynn's bees and keepers—sometimes in a state of magnificent pollen-drunk dizziness—view the world from a striking and daring perspective.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Flynn is unquestionably one of the most interesting poets writing today, and avid poetry readers should be lining up for this book."—Library Journal

"[A] compact and compelling lyric sequence."—Publishers Weekly

"Contemplative and empathic, Flynn discerns the essence of complex sensory and emotional states, writing with a light but commanding touch in poems that are at once airy and tensile. In his ravishing and award-winning debut, Some Ether (2000), he portrayed a boy coping with his young mother's suicide. Here, in a radical departure, Flynn imaginatively enters the rarefied existence of a French eighteenth-century beekeeper named Francois Huber, who, in spite of going blind during childhood, conducted groundbreaking studies of the hidden dynamics of hive life with the help of an assistant remembered only as Burnens. As fascinated by the bees' points of view as by Huber's phenomenal ability to divine their ways through sound, touch, and smell, Flynn writes with exquisite delicacy and transporting agility not only of the blind apiarist's vivid perceptions but also of the experiences of drones, workers, and queens. Spellbound within wax edifices beneath a honey rain, Flynn succinctly and resonantly contrasts the dense and thrumming bee realm with our own buzzing, bittersweet world of avid appetites and aggression, longing and valor."—Donna Seaman, Booklist

"This is a work of the creative imagination unlike any other."—Stanley Kunitz

Publishers Weekly
Nick Flynn's 1999 debut, Some Ether, was a compelling piece of post- confessionalism, and a runaway success: Flynn depicted his suicidal mother, his vagabond father, and his own grownup torments, phrase by short, sophisticated phrase. This follow-up forsakes Flynn's own biography for that of the blind 18th-century beekeeper Francois Huber, who-with his assistant Burnens-discovered the outlines of what we now know about honeybees. The compact and compelling lyric sequence imagines Huber, Burnens, and the bees themselves as they reveal their nature and their behavior over Huber's long and patient life. Component poems-all in terse and deft free verse-take full advantage of Flynn's real knowledge of apiculture, and of his talent for punchy, self-contained lines. "We pollinate the fields," the bees say in "Queen," "because we are the fields." (Oct.) Forecast: Though lacking the memoiristic grab of Ether, this volume will still benefit from that one's success-and from Flynn's upcoming prose memoir, which focuses on his homeless father. The new book's unified subject also provides one more hook for feature and interview coverage in national and regional media; expect strong sales if such coverage does emerge.
Library Journal
Flynn's impressive first collection (Some Ether) was overly autobiographical, tempered by a close attention to craft. This new collection, based loosely on the life of Fran ois Huber, a blind, 18th-century beekeeper, strays far from the Self. Yet what unites these two collections is the sense of desperation, the crazed need, the determination to prevail. The majority of poems are written from the bees' perspective, yet they seem neither irrelevant nor simplistic. In fact, this approach yields wisdom and insights, as in "Queen": "You take our honey/ because we let you. We pollinate the fields// because we are the fields." These poems are tight, with not a word wasted; objectivist at their root, they borrow imagery from Christianity, Islam, science, and mythology to create almost surreal philosophical concoctions that seem to have belonged together all along. While Flynn is unquestionably one of the most interesting poets writing today, and avid poetry readers should be lining up for this book, it will most likely confuse more casual readers. Recommended, therefore, for larger poetry collections.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555973735
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 72
  • Sales rank: 988,867
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.07 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Flynn's first collection of poems, Some Ether, received numerous awards, including the 1999 “Discovery” / The Nation Award and the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, as well as several other prizes and honors. He is currently working on a memoir about his father. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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First Chapter

Blind Huber


By Nick Flynn

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 2002 Nick Flynn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-373-6


Chapter One

Opaque glow where my eyes should be, what remaining light, eyelids thin against it. Soothing, as if all I pass were encrusted in wax, dipped upright - wax bush & wax bench, wax man, wax tea, waxy cup to waxy lips, my eyes now more like their eyes, morning filtered beyond translucence as the acolytes cover their queen. By the sound they will soon swarm, clockwork, the frenzied heat of wings form droplets on the walls of their city, their city softening, now twisting just out of shape.

SWARM When you see us swarm - rustle of

wingbeat, collapsed air - your mind tries to make us one, a common

intelligence, a single spirit un- tethered. You imagine us merely searching out the next

vessel, anything

that could contain us, as if the hive were just another jar. You try

to hold the ending, this unspooling, make it either

zero or many, lack

or flurry. I was born, you begin, & already each word makes you smaller. Look at this field -

Cosmos. Lungwort. Utter each & break

into a thousand versions of yourself. You can't tell your stories fast enough. The answer is not one, but also

not two.

HIVE What would you do inside me? You would be utterly

lost, labyrinthine

comb, each corridor identical, a funhouse, there, a bridge, worker

knit to worker, a span you can't cross. On the other side

the queen, a fortune of honey. Once we filled an entire house with it, built the comb between floorboard

and joist, slowly at first, the constant

buzz kept the owners awake, then louder, until honey began to seep

from the walls, swell the doorframes. Our gift.

They had to burn the house down to rid us.

AMBER

To hover the imagined center, our tongues grew long to please it, licking

the walls, a chamber built of scent,

a moment followed by a lesser moment & a hunger to return. It couldn't

last, resin

flowed glacially from wounds in the bark, pinned us in our entering as the orchids opened wider. First,

liquid, so we swam until we couldn't. Then it felt like sleep, the taste of nectar

still inside us. Sometimes a lotus

submerged with us. A million years went by. A hundred. Swarm of hoverfly, cockroach, assassin bug, all

trapped, suspended

in that moment of fullness, a Pompeii, the mother

covering her child's head forever.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Blind Huber by Nick Flynn Copyright © 2002 by Nick Flynn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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