Seminar: David Farrier “Writing at the Hive” (21 March 2017)

03 Mar Seminar: David Farrier “Writing at the Hive” (21 March 2017)

Writing at the Hive: the Poetics of Kin-Making in Sean Borodale’s Bee Journal
David Farrier
University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday 21 March 2017 | 4:00-5:30pm
Morven Brown Building, Room 209 | UNSW, Kensington Campus

A seminar hosted by the UNSW Environmental Humanities group.

This paper will explore what makes a poetics of kin-making through a reading of Sean Borodale’s collection, Bee Journal. Bee Journal is a kind of multispecies love story, an account of the poet’s first eighteen months as an apiarist and the death of his original hive. Written in the shadow of colony collapse disorder, it explores many of the questions posed within multispecies and extinction studies, regarding kin-making, collaborative labour, and how to love the unloved other. Through a series of ‘thickenings’–the hives’ own “fifty million year old song” (Borodale), the “congealed labour” (Latour) of honey, and a poetic line thick with stresses—Borodale shows how the “crowded moment” of writing at the hive is an engagement with what Astrida Niemanis calls “thick time”, where deep time converges with the lyric “now.” This thickening is the basis for a poetics of shared but uneven vulnerability, a turning of the individuated human towards the hive-minded.

David Farrier is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and a Leverhulme Visiting Fellows at UNSW. He is writing a study of deep time and ecological crises in contemporary poetry, and convenes the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network ( He has also written for Aeon and The Atlantic.

Image: “Honey Bee Swarm” by Umberto Salvagnin. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license

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