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Bernadette Mayer reads some Bee Sonnets

Last spring, before leaving upstate New York where I’d been living for awhile, I made a beeline for Bernadette Mayer’s house so that I could record her reading from a new chapbook she’d given me called the complete work of APIS MELLIFERA, which she had written in collaboration with a friend, Laynie Browne. Before Bernadette has a book published by New Directions, small presses print chapbooks of her new work. I love getting a chapbook, all fresh and contained in a few pages; there’s no better place to enjoy her adventures with language.

Here are two of the poems Bernadette reads on the Vimeo; I think they give you an idea of just how much fun her poetry can be.


The furtive fig does figure like a fiction
INTO THE PIZZAS OF futurity, but it’s a non-fiction fig!
going well with fungus & gorgonzola
& a figment of lovage & fiddlehead ferns
a fraction of
there’s somethng fishy in Denmark
in the fiduciary field, i tend to fidget
i think i have fibromyalgia or something
so i take Flomax 2c a day to find my savior
but i’m sorry to say, we have no finch sock
this calendar year, which is the field
guide to the fancy of my fortune


The opposite of sonnet is tennos, eh?
Two sonnets would be owt tennoses, three
would be eerth, etc. When you land in the land
of the sonnet, watch out for the barbed wire of
conclusions. There are no warming signs. The
whole area might be full of thorns, so you will know
not to enter, or even reform. I’m just saying
a sonnet is like a little room, just big enough for a
bear cub. He or she can’t even turn around in it.
If a sonnet is injured, you’ll have to carry it
on a stretcher. Be careful of the couplet
or tail. If it is a baby sonnet, you can bring
it home.

This chapbook, the complete work of APIS MELLIFERA, whose cover is all black and yellow like the colors of a honey bee, was published by Further Other Book Works. You can check them out below:


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