In The Girl with Bees in Her Hair, Eleanor Rand Wilner confirms her reputation as a discerning and distinctive voice in American poetry. She creates a mythology that recovers the authentic and the real, that sees a planet too small and a universe too immense to support humanity’s old illusions of importance. From the “unfolding flower of fire” of the Big Bang that opens the book to the blue silence of ocean at its close, a subversive imagination, informed by history and science, plays its transforming light across the dark of outer space and the inmost chambers of the heart.
In this “choral work of the imagination,” Wilner’s poems reach beyond the self to challenge popular assumptions and rigorously held beliefs, and unsettle memory itself. As the old gods dissolve back into elemental forces and passions, a contemporary vision emerges that looks back without nostalgia, views the present with mounting dread and mixes elegy with protest against that which devalues life and sanctions violence and war.
The Apple was a Northern Invention
When she ate the pomegranate,
it was as if every seed
with its wet red shining coat
of sweet flesh clinging to the dark core
was one of nature’s eyes. Afterward,
it was nature that was blind,
and she who was wild
with vision, condemned
to see what was before her, and behind.
“Drawing heavily upon myth and ancient texts, Wilner finds the contemporary world has let the old gods down, and vice versa… Wilner’s critique does not limit itself to be the absence of myth; it often turns directly to the world as she sees it, a world that includes the Dionne quintuplets, ClearChannel and Slovenian critical theorist Slavoj Žižek.”—Publishers Weekly
“When [Wilner’s] style works… it pushes the story line forward with such energy that it tells itself… poems arrive blissfully albeit somewhat breathlessly at the point of perfect closure.”—Library Journal
“The Girl With Bees in Her Hair is filled with smooth, flowing narratives, with brief moments of lyrical epiphanies… curious revisionings of myth, a strong displeasure for war, and much beauty—real, stunning, uninterrupted, uncontrived beauty.”—Redactions: Poetry and Poetics