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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Poet As Queen Bee

Kaitlin Martin

“Name one important thing that has not already happened,” Gail Martin writes in one of her poems.

Her new collection, Disappearing Queen (Two Sylvias Press, 2021), delves into the passage of time, the way we age, the how queens become queens, like queen bees in a hive. She writes about what we lose, and what we gain, as our lives evolve and pass by.

A conversation with Gail Martin

“I think on one level I am exploring and witnessing my own awareness of passing time and the poignancy of that,” Martin says. “How everything we love is ephemeral and will be taken away. I love the Mark Doty quote that the agreement to participate in this life is a path to its grief. And I guess looking at my own life as I grow older, all the people and things we say goodbye to, I’m trying to invite some gracefulness into all that. So I suppose on another level, I’m trying to reach some measure of inner peace about mortality.”

Credit Two Sylvias Press
Two Sylvias Press

Poems about bees separate the chapters of Martin’s book, even though she initially had no intention to write a poetry collection about bees.

“They just kept showing up,” Martin says.

Her bees all became queens because “women are charged with carrying the culture, and there’s power in that. And then there’s another kind of power that I reference in my title poem, and that is that I want to know, in the time left, what it is to fly without my spangled commitments.”

With age comes a certain freedom, Martin explains, and for a woman that can sometimes mean the freedom to move through the world with a welcome measure of invisibility as she ages. No more cat calls.

Gail Martin's book Begin Empty-Handed won the Perugia Press Poetry prize in 2013 and was the winner of the Housatonic Book Award for Poetry at Western Connecticut State University in 2014. Martin is a Michigan native with roots in both northern and southern Michigan. She lives in Kalamazoo, where she works as a psychotherapist. Disappearing Queen, the winner of the Wilder Poetry Prize at Two Sylvias Press, is her third collection.

A book launch and Zoom reading, hosted by Diane Seuss and Kelli Russell Agodon, will be held on June 30, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Registration is required.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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