First Bee Ceilidh and Bee-Flower Dialogues

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Returned from Green Man on Monday – which was an utterly lovely festival experience: the event is brilliantly well run, with a perfect mix of types of music and other arts to rove around experiencing. And such lovely people, everywhere!

On Friday and Saturday, I was up to run the first sessions in the Einstein’s Garden Workshop Dome (wherein were various arts-science happenings took place throughout the fest), with the inaugural Bee Ceilidh on Sunday afternoon.

As expected, the Ceilidh was quite chaotic and anarchic – so I’m looking forward to more of that (with some clearer explanations of the choreography from me!) this weekend at Towersey Festival, as part of the Sculpture Village

Until then, here’s a couple of the pieces that came out of the workshops – some dialogues between flowers and bees…The italics are bees, the non-italics are flowers.

They were written by independently writing five questions (bees – what do you want to know about the flower?) and five statements (flowers – you want to sound like the best flower in the world!), then reading them in order. There’s an odd (sad? lost?) poetry in asking questions that never get answered, or making statements which do not answer the questions…

 

Garden Interview 1

 

How would you guarantee a soft landing on your petals?

I stand head above every other flower in the garden.

 

What was the first song you sang this morning?

I radiate a kaleidoscope of pink that is sure to tickle your buzzer.

 

When do you usually bloom?

My petals are perfectly shaped to protect you from that autumn breeze.

 

Have you moved gardens lately? 

I am all over the place: I have cousins in every field and paddy,

up and down the country.

 

In a sentence, please describe your pollen and rate it on a delicious factor?

My pollen is neverending – you can feast for days.

 

(One of the participants from the next piece had clearly been reading about particular flowers which have evolved to capture flies – by producing…certain smells…)

 

Garden Interview 2

 

How sweet is your nectar?

I don’t attract bees.

 

Will you intoxicate me?

I smell like a dead horse.

 

Will your stripes guide me?

I feel like a dead horse.

 

When will you unfurl?

I look like a dead horse.

 

Can I get nectar from you?

I adapted to  get flies attracted to me.

 

How curious and macabre, yet entertaining – perhaps that girl will go on to have a career in carnivorous plant research…?

Thanks to all those who took part in both the workshops and the Bee Ceilidh.

Hopefully there’ll be some photos of the Ceilidh soon – in which case, I’ll post them, or a link to them, on here.

This weekends will hopefully have the added visual benefit of ANTENNAE for dancers. Oh yes…

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Buzz Words and the Bee Ceilidh at Green Man

Buzz Words and the Bee Ceilidh at Green Man

I’m very excited about Green Man, Einstein’s Garden where I’ll be running my Buzz Words workshops on Friday at 11am and Saturday at 10.30, as well as hosting the BEE CEILIDH on Sunday afternoon at 4pm on the Solar Stage…

See you there for some apian antics.

The Bee-Spell of Shakespeare Primary School

A collective poem of new collective nouns...

Here is a collected list poem or “spell” from students’ work today – coming up with new collective nouns for (Latin-name) species of British bee (which we spoke about as spells, like in Harry Potter…).

It has been an exhausting, but seemingly quite successful, day of workshops and waggle dances!

Hopefully the Buzz Words over the summer will get better and better.

 

And here is a ‘tweaked’ version of the poem, with a little stanza at the end to seal the spell…

 

The Bee-Spell of Shakespeare Primary

 

Oh River of Anthidium manicatum.

Oh Ruby of Andrena agilissima.

Oh Christmas of Bombus ruderarius.

Oh Cheesy Sweet of Osmia bicolor.

Oh Alien Grass of Bombus bohemicus.

Oh Seasoning of Hoplitis spinulosa.

Oh Rainbow Sea-Creature of Bombus lapidarius.

Oh Circle-Bubblegum of Lasioglossum malachurum.

Oh Salad of Apis mellifera.

Oh Heaven of Xylocopa violacea…

 

May you find sanctuary in our naming,

This Latin spell grant peaceful lives:

A flawless, diamond song exclaiming

From every burrow, every hive.

 

by The Students of Shakespeare Primary School

(with Caleb Parkin)

Pesticide makes bees forget the scent for food, new study finds

http://m.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/27/pesticide-bees-scent-food-neocotinoid Just after my piece about how bees see and smell – their ‘plastic’ sense of shapes becoming scents – I was sent this story. So perhaps pesticides are changing the shapes of scents to them: my film noir PI cross-cutting image may be more apt than I realised. It is a sad thought, a hives workers stumbling around drunkenly, seeking what they have for millions (or more?) of years, but unable to sense its real shape.

Little Shadows

How a bee might see a flower – except, not really, because they *smell shapes* (kind of).

I’m brewing a project – a series  of workshops and performances – around BEES (I always feel I have to capitalise it) for this summer, called BUZZ WORDS (I credit thanks to Mr Ian Billings for assistance with the title).

So, with that in mind I’ve been looking out for bee-related stories, inspiration and reading – and tweeting bee-related excerpts from poems too. (They should show up on my Twitter-widget, bottom right).

One such story was this – the amazing symbiosis and (literally) electrical relationship between flowers and bees: plants can ‘communicate’ with bees how much pollen they have ‘in stock’, by changing their electrical field (excuse my usual mangling of scientific language). But the weird thing is that, from other reading I’m doing, bees don’t see in the same way we do at all – and nor can we really understand their ‘plastic sense of smell’, where – get this – shapes have fragrances. All very synaesthetic, which lends itself hugely to poetry, I reckon…

There’s an inherent impossibility trying to perceive as another animal might – but for me, that’s part of poetry’s job. To enjoy the plasticity of language and our imaginative faculties – which are, to a large extent, uniquely human. So this poem was trying to point towards what ‘being a bee’ might be like, but on human terms. (We don’t have any others, do we?)

The title takes its name from a terribly courtly and gorgeous song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (the acoustic version) – so do have a listen (after reading). Just as flowers and bees have a symbiotic relationship, so do bees and humans – but who ends up the ‘shadow’ is still unclear. Hence the conclusion of the poem, perhaps: certainty is always plastic, being is always relative.

 

Little Shadows

 

Imagine that montage moment in the film

noir, where the PI  ranges the city streets,

neon lights lurid and rain-streaked and longing:

thinking thinking thinking about

what it is he doesn’t

yet know.  See it?

 

Imagine that, but now see it POV

and at nine-thousand times multiplicity

and instead of a He, you’re a She and you’re

flying flying flying about

at roof height, just knowing

knowing. OK?

 

Imagine that cutaway shot of a sign

which in the film says

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

all luminous-pink curving

tonguelike, now says:

ASTER X FRIKARTII.

 

That louche flashing purple

PRIVATE SHOW, now reads: SALVIA

NEMEROSA CARADONNA. Yeah?

 

And that raunchy Latin text becomes

a shape that bypasses your eyes

nine-thousand times and becomes the aroma

of everything – literally everything –

you have every wanted

or known. Right?

 

Imagine those nine-thousand

cutaway shots above a bar

of endlessly-pouring holy beer

have become a pendulum, pulling

your entire being with the breeze

of its transcendental scent,

the gravity of its colour. Yes.

 

And imagine that there’s no mystery,

only endless little shadows of yourself shining,

weaving through every single city street,

drinking drinking drinking in

the plastic certainty

of being.