Ann Vickery, Bees Do Bother
Shortlisted for 2022 Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry
'In Bees Do Bother, poet Ann Vickery performs a kind of cultural studies that interrogates settler culture through the microcosm of the bee colony. Bees appear throughout the collection as specimen, motif, and homonyms. Vickery’s poems are urgent: they pulse as much with intelligence as with desire.' Queensland Literary Awards judges' report
Bees Do Bother: An Antagonist's Carepack 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 Bees Do Bother 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?
'Bees Do Bother is a remarkable and complex lyric invention, funny, fierce, simmering and spectral. Its shifting tectonics of syntax and reference are unflinching, often satiric yet rooted in deep principled concerns. In this powerful multivocal collection, readers will find themselves rethinking what it is to be human. What might bees and the non-human tell us, not just metaphorically but materially, about ourselves, our ways of organising work and relationships, our communities, and our vulnerabilities and complicities. With brilliance and intensity as well as tenderness, Ann Vickery reorients our gaze to ask how can we deal more ethically with our shaky knowledges, our often-shirked responsibilities and our perilous future that is already here.' Jill Jones
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).
Ann Vickery, Bees Do Bother: An Antagonist's Carepack
2021. 148mm x 210mm. 80pp.
Release date: July 2021
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.