Santa Barbara’s own Gunpowder Press recently released Buzz: Poets Respond to SWARM, the first volume in the press’s new Shoreline Voices Project. Shoreline Voices, an annual series of themed collections meant to showcase the wealth of Santa Barbara’s poetic community, recruits wordsmiths from all around the area to write. Three dozen local poets contributed to Buzz, an anthology of poetic responses about an art exhibit entitled SWARM that was held last year at Ganna Walska Lotusland.
Curated by local artist Nancy Gifford, SWARM: A Collaboration with Bees was a multimedia statement that not only addressed the honeybee crisis in a unique setting but also provided a muse for the authors of Buzz. The poets took inspiration from the multi-media artwork of artists such as Penelope Stewart, as well as from the myth of Daphne and the eccentric Polish celebrity Ganna Walska, founder of Lotusland. But perhaps the most striking inspiration was the bees themselves.
“Buzz: Poets Respond to SWARM is the product of [the poets’] direct interactions with the art,” explains Gifford in a curator’s note. “These poems about bees and their habits in our culture our viewed through the intensified lens of dramatic artistic expression.”
Buzz was edited by former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, Chryss Yost, and the anthology includes some of her poetry. The collection also features work by former Santa Barbara Poet Laureates Barry Spacks, Perie Longo and Paul Willis.
Founded in 2014 by former Santa Barbara Poet Laureate David Starkey, Gunpowder Press (a nod to Santa Barbara’s namesake, Barbara of Nicomedia, who is the patron saint of gunpowder) is an independent poetry press dedicated to remaining small but vibrant. Copies of Buzz can be purchased on their website.
—Ali Van Houten