“How to Keep from Keeping”

Diane LeBlanc created “How to Keep from Keeping” from Anna Botsford Comstock’s How to Keep Bees (1905). Please click here to read.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Diane writes:

This poem is an extraction of words and phrases in the order and form they appear in Chapter VII: “How to Keep from Keeping Too Many Bees.” Extraction interests me because it reveals themes or stories not explicit in the text but accessible through the language. To begin, I printed the chapter and highlighted interesting phrases. I then read the emerging redaction out loud again and again, cutting and reinserting language as tensions between less and more, old and new, emerged. When I committed to writing in complete sentences, I faced the additional challenge of finding verbs in correct tenses, articles, and other words the poem needed for clarity. My goal was to blend my voice with Comstock’s voice for a truly collaborative poem. I discovered that I read this handbook through the lens of the current global pandemic, thinking about the complex social orders of a hive as both home and place of work.