Ann Vickery, A Bee’s Guide to Bothering
A Bee’s Guide to Bothering takes its cue from Leonardo da Vinci’s observation that the bee does not simply collect and use but digests and transforms. It considers firstly, how our understanding of social interactions might borrow from those of the more-thanhuman and secondly, that we need to reconceptualise existence as closely connected to the more-than-human. As Maurice Maeterlinck noted as far back as 1901, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” As its title suggests, the collection plays upon the dual meaning of bothering as an act of care as much as an act of disturbance. The central question driving A Bee’s Guide to Bothering is: how might we creatively draw together these strands of care and activism? Taking a specifically feminist approach, the poetry collection considers how experiences of intimacy and labour have been shaped by cultural hierarchies and divisions around gender, race, capital, and nation. It explores how poetry might highlight existing social and ecological vulnerability and unsettle prescribed roles. In imaginatively teasing out and beginning the work of transforming relations, how might poetry lead to more sustainable forms of belonging and solidarity? The manuscript has developed out of “The Antagonist’s Care Pack” which was shortlisted for the 2019 Helen Anne Bell Bequest Poetry Award.
Ann Vickery teaches writing and literature at Deakin University. She is the author of two poetry collections, Devious Intimacy (Hunter Publishers, 2015) and The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon (Vagabond Press, 2014). She was the Australasian representative at the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam in 2016, collaborated on the “Venetian Blind” installation at the 2019 Personal Structures: Identities exhibition in Venice, and collaborated with ClimActs at the Biennale of Australian Art in 2018. She has had poetry translated in Dutch, German, and Vietnamese and also published in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her work has been anthologised in a number of Best Australian Poems, shortlisted for two Helen Anne Bell Bequest Poetry Awards, and appeared in a number of national and international anthologies. She is also the author of two monographs, Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing (Wesleyan University Press, 2000) and Stressing the Modern:
Cultural Politics in Australian Women’s Poetry (Salt, 2007).
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.