Poetry Review — If Bees are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems

If Bees Are Few by James P. Lenfestey

If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems edited by James P. Lenfestey is a collection of poems title after an Emily Dickinson poem. After a career in academia, advertising, and journalism as an editorial writer at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he won several Page One awards for excellence, James P. Lenfestey has published poetry, reviews, and articles, plus a book of essays.

This collection covers centuries of poets and nearly every bee associated trait. From the pollinators, to colony collapse disorder, to fertility in general, bees or their mannerisms are examined. Lessons on hive life, the difference between hive and ground bees, and the unique bumble bee are given. Poets from modern to medieval contribute to this collection. Rumi contributes “When Grapes Turn to Wine. Emerson gives the reader “The Humble Bee”:

Insect lover of the sun,
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon

James Silas Rogers tells of liberating a bumble bee from his basement and Lawrence Ferlinghetti tells of two bees trapped in his cabin and their different behaviors. The range of topics and views of the poets allow for a large number of poems on the same seemingly simple topic, bees, to seem fresh and not repetitious. The collection is listed as three hundred pages but the Kindle advance copy reads much more quickly. I would assume that the print edition will be illustrated. Regardless, the poetry is great and proceeds from the sale will go to the University of Minnesota Bee Lab and its efforts to help save the bees.

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

Emily Dickinson, XCVII



Filed under Book Review

3 responses to “Poetry Review — If Bees are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems

  1. Emily is appropriate for every occasion.

  2. Great review, Joseph. The dwindling population of bees is a real concern.

  3. Bees mater so much and are closely related to the survival of humanity to through the diversity of plants, trees and flowers. God bless any effort to have this statement across people’s mind. Thank You so much for reviewing this book dedicated to the effort in saving the bees by showing us how beautiful they are and how glorious is their task.

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