Blind Huber Poems

Nick Flynn

Graywolf Press



96 Pages



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In his second collection of verse, award-winning poet Nick Flynn takes readers into the dangerous and irresistible center of the hive. Our guide to this strange new world is Francois Huber, the eponymous and sightless eighteenth-century beekeeper, who aims to learn about bees through observing their behavior. (Most of what we know today about the beehive is the product of Huber's pioneering work.)

Through an odd but productive arrangement, Huber's assistant Burnens becomes his very eyes, and his narrator, as he goes about his work. In Flynn's extraordinary poems, Huber and Burnens speak directly to us—and so do the bees. The strongest virgin waits silently to kill the other virgins; the drones are "made of waiting"; the swarm attempts to protect the queen.

Blind Huber is a book about the body, love, and devotion, and about the limits of what can be known and what will forever be unknown.


Praise for Blind Huber

"Flynn is unquestionably one of the most interesting poets writing today, and avid poetry readers should be lining up for this book."—Library Journal

"[A] compact and compelling lyric sequence."—Publishers Weekly

"Contemplative and empathic, Flynn discerns the essence of complex sensory and emotional states, writing with a light but commanding touch in poems that are at once airy and tensile. In his ravishing and award-winning debut, Some Ether (2000), he portrayed a boy coping with his young mother's suicide. Here, in a radical departure, Flynn imaginatively enters the rarefied existence of a French eighteenth-century beekeeper named Francois Huber, who, in spite of going blind during childhood, conducted groundbreaking studies of the hidden dynamics of hive life with the help of an assistant remembered only as Burnens. As fascinated by the bees' points of view as by Huber's phenomenal ability to divine their ways through sound, touch, and smell, Flynn writes with exquisite delicacy and transporting agility not only of the blind apiarist's vivid perceptions but also of the experiences of drones, workers, and queens. Spellbound within wax edifices beneath a honey rain, Flynn succinctly and resonantly contrasts the dense and thrumming bee realm with our own buzzing, bittersweet world of avid appetites and aggression, longing and valor."—Donna Seaman, Booklist

"This is a work of the creative imagination unlike any other."—Stanley Kunitz

Reviews from Goodreads



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Nick Flynn's first collection of poems, Some Ether, received numerous awards, including the 1999 “Discovery” / The Nation Award and the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, as well as several other prizes and honors. He is currently working on a memoir about his father. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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  • Nick Flynn

  • Nick Flynn's first collection of poems, Some Ether, received numerous awards, including the 1999 “Discovery”/The Nation Award and the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.