The Human Body Is a Hive

Erica Gillingham


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Verve Poetry Press
10 March 2022
ISBN: 9781913917074
32 pages

From the publisher

Composed in two halves, Erica Gillingham’s The Human Body is a Hive is a playful and observant reconception of queer love and queer family-making. Opening with a shameless celebration of sex and desire, the collection expands the boundaries of love to include friendship, romance, and lifelong partnership. The latter catalogues the cyclical heartbreaks and wonders of fertility treatment through the microscopic lenses of nature, medicine, and art. Both quietly moving and profoundly celebratory, this exciting debut evokes tenderness and resilience.

The Human Body is a Hive is a luminous debut pamphlet that “[startles the reader] by its fresh presence.” Amidst the joys and complexities of queer family-making, Gillingham offers us tender, sensual and profound poems suffused with a tensile strength.’ – Mary Jean Chan, author of Fleché, winner of The Costa Poetry Award

‘An elegant lyric poem navigating the wide vistas and deep griefs of trying to conceive. A joyful and sensuous addition to the lesbian literary canon. Beautiful.’ – Joelle Taylor, author of C+nto & Othered Poems, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize

‘In this tender and arresting collection, the human body is a landscape and a hive; a cosmic object and a rhythm. Whether her feet are in metal stirrups on a hospital bed or pacing the hardwood of a gallery floor, Erica asks—intimately, unexpectedly, and one imagines with a wry smile—what it means to be both alive and in the body, and so also how we love.’ – Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings

The Human Body is a Hive is a flush of warmth to the soul. Maintaining a balance between queer reproductive activism and an intimate late-night conversation with your oldest friend, Gillingham has woven the journey to motherhood with mythology, country music and exquisite nature writing. This debut collection is important reading to anyone who has hopes of being a parent today, whilst evoking a beautiful tale of love, creation and motherhood as old as time.’ – Jo Flynn, co-director of For Books’ Sake and author of Swallowing Sands