Winner of the 2014 FIELD Poetry Prize
Carol Potter's four previous books have earned many admirers and multiple awards. But the scope and depth of Some Slow Bees, winner of the 2014 FIELD Poetry Prize, will be a revelation even to her most devoted fans.
Potter's new collection is a book about trouble, about loss: relationships, farms, parents, places. But there's also humor, a wry look at the way we invite or stumble into trouble and how we embrace the adventure. From children at their desks watching the flood leak into the schoolroom, to the narrator and her lover paddling down a river in the dark, the book charts a journey from loss to repair. It ends with a sonnet sequence, "The Miss Nancy Papers," that leads us from the psychological terrain of the 1950s into the present, where "if anyone knew what war we were coming home from / we would come home from it." This is a book about how to get lost, and how to get home.
"Tightly woven yet seemingly off-the-cuff, the 'Miss Nancy' sonnets that close this book are quietly monumental. Like the rest of Some Slow Bees, they blend personal memory with cultural history, provoking both ache and laughter. In her tsunami-sized drive toward 'the act of knowing,' Potter alternates between bullet-like declaratives, loopy wandering, and mad headlong propulsion; the reader senses anything at all might turn up and be transformed."
—Ellen Doré Watson
"In Some Slow Bees Carol Potter inhabits and investigates the spaces between overlapping images—a flooded school and the school full of children, for example—and an essayistic, logical way of proceeding, where assertions are questioned and possibilities are turned over to reveal, finally, the signs by which we know ourselves. It easily and seamlessly moves from the deepest of memories and poetic gestures to assertions such as 'too much metaphor in your life might mean you need / to be talking about something but you'd rather not.' It works beautifully, and finds things not found any other way. I love this book."
"With what verve and formal acuity Carol Potter puts us right in the welter of the world. Her tales in Some Slow Bees are told with such speed everything unnecessary falls away and what's left is pure honey—with the sting of revelation. The language is exuberant and exacting at once, like a scalpel sprouting feathers. Desirous and wary of love, skeptical of 'the grail that any one story grows to be,' these are poems of self-reckoning, and Potter makes a fine music for us all out of what we 'didn’t do..., couldn’t keep..., walked away from.' 'Don’t sit down just because you're invited,' one poem cautions. But Reader, do—do sit down and feast on these fine, wry and wonderful poems."