• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Natural Poetry

Air Date: Week of
Poet Ross Gay.

Living on Earth has been occasionally featuring poetry. Today, Ross Gay waxes poetic about beekeeping.


We’ve occasionally been bringing you poetry inspired by the natural world – and we have more today.

GAY: My name’s Ross Gay and I think I probably started writing poems when I was in college. I was a football player and I hadn’t done much reading before I got to college, though I did read comic books, and stuff like that. But I got to college and somehow was turned on to poetry in an American literature class and poets like Amiri Baraka, especially, actually made me have a response that was so strong, they sort of articulated things that I had not yet known how to articulate, but that I had felt very strongly.

And once I’d had that experience of being able to feel something more clearly, because I had it articulate for me, I wanted to sort of do the same thing, I think. And that’s how I started writing poems.

YOUNG: Ross Gay says now he’s a basketball coach, an occasional demolition man, a painter – and a gardener.

GAY: This poem is called “Ode to the Beekeeper,” and this is a poem, actually for my partner, who keeps bees, and you know, all of this information about colony collapse disorder- you know this had been very much on a lot of people’s minds and was very much on her mind- which got her to begin keeping bees. It’s called “Ode to the Beekeeper.”

Poet Ross Gay.

Who has taken off her veil and gloves and whispers to the bees
In their own language
Inspecting the comb-thick frames
Blowing just so when one, or the other, alights on her, if she doesn’t study it first
The veins feeding the wings, the deep ochre shimmy, the singing
Just like in the dreams that brought her here in the first place
Dream of the queen, dream of the brood chamber, dream of the desiccated world, and sifting with her hands the ash
And her hands ashen when she awoke
Dream of honey in her child’s wound
Dream of bees hived in the heart and each wet chamber gone gold
Which is why, first, she put on the veil
And which is why, too, she took it off

YOUNG: As well as writing poetry, Ross Gay teaches creative writing at Indiana University at Bloomington.



Click here for more on Ross Gay


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth