Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: The Bees Are Waiting

Karina Borowicz

The Bees Are Waiting
Marick Press, 2012
90 pp./69 poems

From the very title of The Bees Are Waiting, the reader knows that Ms. Borowicz will have a certain natural bent in her work. Individual poem titles such as “Feathers,” “Beetle,” and “Cut Flowers” further this notion. There is an abundance of imagery such as water, birds, deer, and bees to pull the reader into a sort of homemade preserve. These moments often prove lovely, as in “Visitors,” in which foreign exchange students experience snow for the first time. The poem serves as a reminder to the reader to find wonder in the things around us, even when they seem commonplace--in other words, to see the world through new eyes.

Rather than focusing only on the physical world, however, Borowicz also concerns herself with human nature. She compares the human experience with that of animals in “All Hallows’ Eve” to illuminate the ways in which we have lost touch with our more primal side: “[…] our eyes got used to looking / at fire, you say, and we were tamed.” This tendency to reflect on our bridled existence crops up a few times throughout the collection, often in ways that read as specific but feel universal. A shining example is “Closer,” in which a good description, however brief, of the preparations one must make for impending disasters has the potential to speak to those facing cancer, divorce, job loss, or any other roadblock.

Some of the best moments in The Bees Are Waiting have less to do with humans on the whole and more with that subspecies known as Writer. “Black Earth” is perfect insomuch as it gives voice to every writer’s wish: to take the world and rearrange it as he or she sees fit and “A Small Notebook” discusses the loneliness and solitary nature of a writer’s life. Tangentially related is “Paradise Farms,” a fine example of obsession. This is a poem that could stand in for any infatuation: the urge to create (by writing, painting, and so on), the need to nurture, et cetera. Similarly, “The Noodle Maker’s Shop” is a one-track mind showcased in thirteen lines: the way we can bury ourselves in something so completely that no one else can see into our lives, an idea everyone can appreciate whether they make noodles or not. This, then, is a great strength of Borowicz’s: tuning her instrument finely but not so much that each reader is unable to connect to the words on the page.

If Borowicz fails at all, it is in her choices to eschew punctuation in certain poems. Although this strategy works well in “The Weather Is Still Here,” where the speaker is rushing to say something she does not want to say and is eager to change the subject, on the whole, it is an unwelcome poetic tic for this reader. Of course, it is an old-fashioned preference, but in some cases, I believe the work suffers when thoughts are not fully separated.

Otherwise, The Bees Are Waiting is an admirable collection. Consider reading these poems when you rise from bed, because, as Borowicz writes,” “In the cool morning air / they could afford to be fierce.”

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