Becoming the Sound of Bees


This book starts out listening for bees, and hears none, the listener being something of a pupa in a cocoon on the early pages. Honeycombs begin not as sources of Swiftian sweetness and light, but sloughs of despond. Honeybees themselves, initially silent, burn like fire at the stake.  The planet and its atmosphere, thus un-beed, become a single organism whose surface swarms with flotsam, jetsam and scabs reincarnating as silverfish. This book hums louder and more beautifully than any of our world’s collapsing colonies.
-Tom Bradley

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& the sky was birdless//we listened//for the sound of bees

In the search for illumination, navigational lines transmute to brinks, horizons, loss; leaving the visionary to his intentional muse, a specific, dream-keen concise dead-reckoning splitting some supreme immortal blur. Here, Vincenz graces poetic bounty with waving rhythm, stirs a ruffling of ocean into sheets spread between man and more, giving us our own mortal reflection and calling us to sail. Becoming the Sound of Bees masterfully portrays the quest for truth in a journey ripe with the child-scrawl of angels, winged-spiders, honeyguides and honeybirds traversing the globe to locate home, and in this voyage brings a hero’s heart. Exemplary–
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What a startlingly powerful collection this is. Vincenz’s Becoming the Sound of Bees, takes the reader to that vibratory level where narrative and the resonant energy of language are in continuous transformation. We are moved through veil after veil of the mundane then in and out of the tarnished glimmer of what might be otherworldly. The feminine figurations of oceans, daughters, wives are raved at by the iconic masculine prototype Ivan who dares “to scream Blue at the sea.” Frail universes build, crest, and capsize. Yet we are given exacting details from myth, history, science, and anthropology that fly by us humming, only to sink and collide seemingly in the same breath. The musical quality of Vincenz’s gorgeous language is remarkable; the narrative of a ruined earth is urgent. Yet always there appears a lucid gem of what might be (or once was), and it is in this “becoming” we discover a redeeming focus on singularity. The poem “The Sign, The Symbol, The Bird” offers such visual vigor in the flight of a simple thrush: “that flash of speckled feather resting at intervals on threadbare scrub,” only to “whistle back into her own marvelous concoction.” This collection is captivating both for its unique use of language and for the breadth, depth, and clarity of the narrative.
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Becoming the Sound of Bees is the music, the mind and muscle of a poet intimately engaged with the world becoming, with Being taking shape and presence. It is a fractured cinematic narrative where scenes saturate one another and characters shift and exchange faces, some of which are our own—such is the strength of its hold on the imagination. It is history (personal and communal) through kaleidoscopic mind, keenly aware that any event might open an unexpected portal into any other. It is trans-figuration out of the body toward infinite forms more real than symbols, more tangible than myth, yet ripe with the plenitude of both those modes. It is a book of physical knowledge as reveled by a natural philosopher in the ancient sense and a magician in the modern sense. It may be read as a collection of poems, but beneath that appearance lies a continuum, a singer sounding the depths and making finely articulated open verse out of the torrent of experience.
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In Becoming the Sound of Bees, Marc Vincenz’s “facts of mind made manifest / in a fiction of matter” capture the process of transformation as it occurs in daily life, personal reflection and philosophical ideation. His sharp eye and deft hand capture shifts of perception that apprehend experience through language or as a manifestation of language itself. Provocative, beautiful, unsettling and highly recommended.
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Persuasive, pensive and experimental, in the best sense of that overused term, the poems in Becoming the Sound of Bees engage with a world that only seems as if it is failing us. In the appropriately titled, “Continuum,” Vincenz says “that a creator may/draw strings and each and every/last one may last/beyond the great oblivion/at the end of all things.” Other poems are entitled, “Yet Another Reincarnation,” “Godwilling,” and “After the Greatest War.” Through static, storms, panic and cacophony, Vincenz's poems emerge with a rhythmic, assonant, euphonious song that just might be a path toward salvation. This is a book of hope and vision that is uncommon because it is hard-won and true. Thanks are due Marc Vincenz for his clear-eyed farsightedness.
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Within an expanding and contracting poetry—the mystical Ivan, scrapping fisherman or sea satyr, wonders amid the language of loss and despair and an ever-warring hope-- “...behind the walls a million oracles waiting.” – A mystical unraveling and unveiling – “..billowing into an oven of gold, or the unrelenting hands of anti-matter...” – Vincenz’s poetry evokes worlds of detail anchored through figures of power and perpetual demise who are most humble and common, wise and dangerous—and capable of a Dostoevskyisan consciousness and suffering. Rather than a poetry of anger and retaliation, Vincenz’s poetry trawls the realms of existential crises, hope and possible redemption—but only within a purview of this nature’s passionately quotidian terms.
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One might think that Becoming the Sound of Bees would entail mixing with the white noise of the natural world and miss the specific symmetries and orchestral richness of that world's hidden, vital communications. Since bees are the landscape architects of the American pastoral story, their purpose is intrinsic to our planet's survival. Vincenz slowly unravels all the grace notes of this necessary mission with his own unfailing music and pollinates the reader's imagination with a host of metaphorical associations. His narratives illustrate the impossible odds of true human interaction and shows us how poetry can provide the improbable solutions inside the human hive, where all bets are off. In the lava roll of his imagination, Vincenz’s poems uncover the tender places where we might reconnect. In a variety of shapes and rhythms, he makes of this book a balm that heals the wounds we inflict upon one another, and the natural world, by virtue of all our appetites and reasons. This book is a powerful reminder of just why poetry is what the world really wants when its heart is broken.


Ampersand Books
" scrying the future, grim and close at hand, on the surface of a poisoned sea. The world conjured here dies variously: empty after the sweep of epidemic, swallowed up by natural disaster, nations crumbling and reduced to their smallest plastic parts."

About the Author

Marc_TurbanMarc Vincenz is British-Swiss, was born in Hong Kong, and has published seven previous collections of poetry: The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees; Gods of a Ransacked Century, Mao’s Mole, Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works (a verse novel), Additional Breathing Exercises (bilingual German- English), Beautiful Rush and This Wasted Land and its Chymical Illuminations (with Tom Bradley). His chapbooks are Benny and the Scottish Blues, Genetic Fires, Upholding Half the Sky and Pull of the Gravitons. He has been published extensively in many journals and anthologies, including: The Manhattan Review, Washington Square Review, Guernica, The Bitter Oleander, St. Petersburg Review, Fourteen Hills, Exquisite Corpse, Spillway and The Canary

He is also the translator of numerous German-language poets, including: Erika Burkart, Ernst Halter, Klaus Merz, Andreas Neeser, Markus Bundi and Alexander Xaver Gwerder. His translation of Alexander Xaver Gwerder’s selected poems, Casting a Spell in Spring, is to be released by Coeur Publishing. He has edited various anthologies and selected works of other poets, including Hugh Fox’s last and posthumous collection, Primate Fox. He has received grants from the Swiss Arts Council, ProHelvetia, for his translations, and a fellowship and residency from the Literary Colloquium Berlin (LCB). His own work has been translated into German, Chinese, Russian, Romanian and French.

Marc is the publisher and executive editor of MadHat Press, MadHat Annual (formerly Mad Hatters’ Review),MadHat Lit and MadHat Drive-By Book Reviews. He is Coeditor-in- Chief of Fulcrum: A Journal of Poetry and Aesthetics, International Editor of Plume, and serves on the editorial board of Open Letters Monthly. He is also Director of Evolution Arts, Inc, a non-profit organization that promotes independent presses and journals. He currently lives in Cambridge, MA.


112 pages
ISBN: 978-09861370-0-6
June 4, 2015




After the Invention of Polystyrene a Ligurian Goat Crosses the Equator

Abut in a tailspin, mad spark

of keratin scratching hard-

wood—and that buck-


toothed back-bite, double-

chew driving through

everything if-you-pleases:


shoes, hats, buttons, ties—

that crumpled trilby Giuseppe wore

with his ’30s Valentino, and


in the buttonhole, an off-

white carnation—in another incarnation,

carrying the fleas of late middle age—;


an idler, a swiller of leftover

orange pop, a guzzler

of misconstrued rubbish, gunk and grease—


‘sono malcontento e raccattaticcio,’

as was parlayed

by Great Uncle Fabrizzio


before his last hand of blackjack

on an ocean liner

from Jakarta to Genoa via Dar es Salam


as he observed an empty

can of mystery meat circle

a lone polystyrene container,


then hover and dive gullishly

into a shoal of mackerel

in a calm whaleless Indian Ocean


crossing the equatorial

with a borderline heart attack

—and finally, that Bornean warrior,


not raised by Cain, but a clan

of cannibals, a bird’s delicate leg bone

through his flared nostrils, adjusting


his penis sheath on the crux

of an equinox while dreaming

of a creature he’d never seen


but knew from a lifetime of belly-

aches and breathy sighs, curried

in Bombay on a street stall


in sinews and gristle, fat-

dripping to a chuffed-

up floor, dusted in fine particles


of a most ancient Macedonian gold

collected mote by mote on fingertips

by a team of orphaned ragamuffins


known as the ‘All That Glitters’—and

that mad pan-flute-playing

Italian passione that carried


Uncle Fabrizzio from the silver

platter of bright colonial Indonesia

to the shredded and shaded


alleys of serpentine Genoa

in pursuit of a dream of old wives’ tales

more than anything he could have foreseen.