Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning poet Nick Flynn takes readers into the dangerous and irresistible center of the hive
I sit in a body & think of a body, I picture
Burnens' hands, my words
make them move. I say, plunge them into the hive,
& his hands go in.
—from "Blind Huber"
Blindness does not deter François Huber—the eighteenth-century beekeeper—in his quest to learn about bees through their behavior. Through an odd, but productive arrangement, Huber's assistant Burnens becomes his eyes, his narrator as he goes about his work. In Nick Flynn's extraordinary new collection, Huber and Burnens speak and so do the bees. The strongest virgin waits silently to kill the other virgins; drones are "made of waiting"; the swarm attempts to protect the queen. It is a cruel existence. Everyone sacrifices for the sweet honey, except the human hand that harvests it all in a single afternoon.
Blind Huber is about the body, love, and devotion and also about the limits of what can be known and what will forever be unknown. Nick Flynn's bees and keepers—sometimes in a state of magnificent pollen-drunk dizziness—view the world from a striking and daring perspective.
Who is allowed to speak? What is it to see? These are some of the questions filtering through Nick Flynn's extraordinary new collection. Loosely based on the life of Francois Huber, the eighteenth-century beekeeper and blind savant, who is alleged to have sat before a series of hives for fifty years, thereby unlocking, and entering deeply into, an unknown world. In these poems, Burnens, his assistant throughout, becomes Huber's eyes and hands, and eventually offers language for the intangible. In this imagined/actual world, everything seems to speak, yet silence and mystery hover at the edges. As the hive apparently warns, "What would you do inside me?/You would be utterly/lost...."
Blind Huber is an act of creative obsession about the body, love, and devotion, about nature and the limits of knowledge. Nick Flynn's bees and beekeepers -- sometimes in a state of magnificent pollen-drunk dizziness -- view the world from a striking and daring perspective.
About the Author
's first collection of poems, Some Ether
, received numerous awards, including the 1999 “Discovery” / The Nation
Award and the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, as well as several other prizes and honors. He is currently working on a memoir about his father. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.