About the Book
In his collection Gold Bee
, Bruce Bond takes his cue from Wallace Stevens’s Harmonium
, bringing a finely honed talent to classic poetic questions concerning music, the march of progress, and the relationship between reality and the imagination.
Blending humor and pathos, Bond examines the absurdities of contemporary life: “The modern air so full of phantom wires, / hard to tell the connected from the confused / who yak out loud to their beleaguered angels.” At other times, his intricately crafted lyrics weave together myth and history to explore the various roles music and art play in the human experience, as when Bond’s poems meditate on Orphean themes, descending to the underworld of loneliness, commercialism, or death and emerging with hard (and hard-won) truths.
Addressing broadly ranging topics—from a retelling of the story of Artephius, the fabled father of alchemy, to a meditation on a fashion ad’s wind machine—Bond’s voice is always penetrating in its examination, yet wondering in the face of beauty, conjuring for the reader a world where music has “the power / to move stones, not far, but far enough.”
Bruce Bond, a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas, is the author of ten books of poetry and has served as the poetry editor for American Literary Review since 1993. His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, and Bond has received a number of awards and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of his work.
“In Gold Bee, Bruce Bond is at the height of his powers as he focuses both obsessively and kaleidoscopically on two core subjects—music and grief—exploring how each reaches into us and, ultimately, reconfigures us. Bond’s capacity for capturing music in language is extraordinary. In one poem, he describes a Bach suite: ‘If the fall of rain were a still place, / it would be a song like this’; elsewhere, polyphony is ‘one music pull[ing] its needle through // the fabric of the other.’ But Bond is not merely an effective describer. A complex philosophy of art in relation to human experience undergirds these poems: ‘Those in mourning know what it is // to occupy a space of great stillness, / an ideal . . .’ In Gold Bee, loss becomes a ballast and music the best kind of air we inhabit as our ship moves forward. This is a profound, hard-won, and deeply moving collection.”—Wayne Miller, author of Post-
“Gold Bee, Bruce Bond’s complex and fascinating new collection of poems commences in a series of meditations on the sensual lives of musical instruments—harp, cello, flute, and piano—the materials from which they are forged, and the way these materials mediate both themselves and the memory they contain and conjure. Time, space, light, past, and present, each tucked inside its opposite, appear and disappear as the poems elicit our expectations of harmony, music’s fabled ability to ‘transport,’ and yet Bond’s interest is not so much in where we’re going as in how the magic happens. ‘They’re in there, the powers of invention // that open something . . .’ insists the speaker in the title poem. Ultimately, these poems perform their own version of alchemy: Bond uses the fire of language, music, art making to refine grief, aging, loss into a pure and valuable stillness that allows us to experience knowledge even if it is beyond understanding. Like music itself, Gold Bee’s poems forge themselves in the spaces opened but untouched by human makers and confirm that ‘One half of every metaphor is knowing, / the other the unburdening of what we know.’”—Leslie Adrienne Miller, author of Y