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The Language of Bees by Rae Howells

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These poems are rich in language, in poetic resources, in knowledge of nature – everything from the sexlessness of hydrangeas to how a bee breathes. Above all they are rich in love, for the world that we are inseparable from and on the verge of destroying.’ – Matthew Francis, Wing (Faber, 2020) 

‘The language of bees is a collection bursting with the beauty and life of the natural world. In these ambitious and accomplished poems, Rae Howells forges a unique and sparkling language, which is capable of giving us all the wonder and richness, the multi sensual onslaught, of the world around us. Whether the subject is an interaction with a wasp or a mermaid, the thoughts of trees or the feelings of a mother, the poems continually boom with so much life. The reader is left with the poems’ unforgettable phrases, their emotive impact and, more than anything else, the excitement that happens when a voice so fully itself meets subject matter of the greatest importance. On page after page, the power of these poems has us looking up, wanting to shout Hey world! Look at this! ‘ – Jonathan Edwards, Gen (Seren, 2018)


How can we have hope in a world that is dying? With a forensic eye, Howells takes us on a journey through ordinary human lives and the extraordinary natural world we are in danger of losing. The carder bee carries the story of a colony, a species, and, ultimately, the fate of all life on earth. The mermaid weaves an almost beautiful tale of a tragic miscarriage. The magpie writes yearning letters to her lost lover. The brilliant kingfisher flits through the mind of a woman with dementia. Through each exacting portrait, we begin to understand something special, a language of bees, and discover for ourselves how intimately we are all connected and what the natural world is trying to tell us.



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