Bee Journal is a startlingly original poetry sequence: a poem-journal of beekeeping that chronicles the life of the hive, from the collection of a small nucleus on the first day to the capture of a swarm two years later. It observes the living architecture of the comb, the range and locality of the colony; its flights, flowers, water sources, parasites, lives and deaths.
These poems were written at the hive wearing a veil and gloves, and the journal is an intrinsic part of the kinetic activity of keeping bees: making 'tiny, regular checks' in the turn around the central figure of the sun, and minute exploratory interventions through the round of the year. The book is full of moments of revelation - particularly of the relationship between the domestic and the wild. In attempting to record and invoke something of the complexity of the relationship between 'keeper' and 'kept' it tunes ear and speech towards the ecstasy of bees, between the known and the unknown.
Because of its genesis as a working journal, there is here an unusual intimacy and deep scrutiny of life and death in nature. The language itself is dense and clotted, the imagery thrillingly fresh, and the observing eye close, scrupulous and full of wonder. Bee Journal is one of the most unusual and exciting poetry debuts in years.
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Sean Borodale is without doubt the most exciting new poet I have read since Alice Oswald. His Bee Journal raises the bar for us all and announces a thrilling new voice in British poetry -
Truly heady and intense poems, honey itself in poetic form, a sustained tour de force of language and thought -
This book is a kind of uncut home-movie of bees. I like its oddness and hurriedness, its way of catching the world exactly as it happens in the split-second before it sets into poetry. These are pre-poems, note-poems dictated by phenomena. Their context is bees, but their subject (intriguingly) is Time... -
Harbours great energy and abundant imagination...a strikingly original voice - Resurgence
Borodale is an extremely accomplished poet…the most beautiful expression of what it is like to live with bees that you could hope to find…they show a wonderful clarity of thought and expression and a great talent for capturing an impression. The recent rising popularity of beekeeping has spawned a number of popular books on the subject but this towers above them all in ambition and emotional effect. It is an exquisite window into bees and beekeeping - Telegraph
Sean Borodale’s Bee Journal lifts the veil on the apiarists life and goes to the heart of the hive… The dense and intense language is the verbal equivalent of the honey that delights the tongue - Sunday Telegraph
Book to savour and reserve for treat reading, a bit like the best honey…a word-filled jar of golden treasure - Dovegrey Reader
About the Author
Sean Borodale works as a poet and artist, making scriptive and documentary poems written on location; this derives from his process of writing and walking for works such as Notes for an Atlas (Isinglass 2003) and Walking to Paradise (1999). Bee Journal is his first collection of poetry. He lives in Somerset.