Category Archives: Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer

Ground Zero published!

A few weeks ago I posted about Ground Zero, a poetry anthology that was accepting submissions. It has finally been published and is ready to order!

Focused on ideas of mental health, suicide, depression, and addiction, all proceeds of the book go towards Do It For Daron, a suicide prevention project based in Ottawa. It was edited and published as a joint effort between Good Morning Bedtime Story and Retcon Poet.

“Foundation,” one of the poems from my book Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, is included in the anthology. Centered around a young boy trapped in an abusive relationship with his father, the poem focuses on thoughts of love, family, transformation, and freedom.

From the official website:

GROUND ZERO is the definitive poetry project centered on mental health. Co-produced by Retcon Poet and Good Morning Bedtime Story, this collection features over fifty poems from almost a dozen different writers.

From the grips of agoraphobia to a bird’s eye view inside a broken home; tackling bullying, homophobia and the scores of teen suicides in the last decade; through the heartbreak of schizophrenia and clinical depression, we have one question to ask:

Is it possible to write our way to a better world, and if not, a better state of mind?

Featuring seven poems written exclusively for this collection, GROUND ZERO seeks to answer that with a definitive yes.

I hope you can all find some kind of solace in the works included. Pick up a copy today to support an amazing charity, and an amazing project!


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Submit to the GROUND ZERO anthology now!

I recently stumbled upon a great blog called Retcon Poet that deals with poetry of mental health, “from depression to suicide to the system that is supposed to treat it.” While looking around the blog, I found a call for submissions for an anthology that the editor is putting together in coalition with Good Morning Bedtime Story, a suicide prevention program that “aims is to provide a forum for those suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies through art, writing and music.” Both blogs explore the ways in which art can help heal the damaged soul, through reflection, creation, and communication. You should definitely take a look!

The anthology, which is to be called GROUND ZERO is looking for submissions of poetry, artwork, and short prose that deals with the broad topic of mental health. From the website:

All proceeds will be donated to Do It For Daron, a collaborative mental health program by the Ottawa Senators and the Royal Ottawa Hospital. It is named for Daron Richardson, the 15-year old daughter of Ottawa Senators’ assistant coach Luke Richardson. She committed suicide in 2010.

All contributors will be given credit, and you can submit under a pseudonym if you so wish. If you think you have something to offer, submit now — the deadline is fast approaching. I submitted today, and got a reply pretty quickly that one of the poems from my book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, would be included in the anthology. The poem, “Foundation,” deals with the topic of child abuse and a young boy’s struggle to break free from the terrible cycle.

For a look at a preliminary table of contents, ad well as submissions details for the cover contest, you can take a look here.

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My writing bio featured in UConn Today


A few months ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed for an alumnus feature article for UConn Today. It was a real honor for two important reasons. One: UConn was, and always will be, near and dear to me. And two: as a student, I worked at UConn Today. I researched, wrote, and edited articles for the publication. I know first-hand the amount of work that goes into these features. And I also know that the features are generally reserved for some pretty spiffy individuals (I wrote a piece for them after Michael J. Fox gave a talk on campus, for example).

But I do have to say, being interviewed by a former coworker was a little embarrassing. And reading his feature makes me blush the full-faced blush of a virgin on her wedding night. 

I guess I’ve never been too fond of being in the spotlight. Probably why  chose the life of a writer and not that of an actor. Anyway, hope you enjoy! From the article:

The first two years after graduation have been busy for Timothy Stobierski ’11 (CLAS).

Stobierski’s first collection of poetry – Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer – was released by River Otter Press in the fall of 2012. A short time later, he learned that six of his poems had been nominated for a coveted Pushcart Prize, the literary awards handed out annually by Pushcart Press to honor the best short stories, poetry, and essays published by small presses in America. And a few months ago, he was invited to talk about his book on “The Faith Middleton Show” for Connecticut Public Radio and WNPR.

Not bad for a first-time young author.

English professor Regina Barreca – who mentored Stobierski as a student in her creative non-fiction class and authored the preface to his book – has this to say about her former student’s first published work: “Stobierski’s insight into the shadowed corners and sealed-off cupboards of family life … illustrate both his knowledge of and his willingness to subvert conventional form. … While Stobierski has a remarkable perspective on the potential claustrophobia of family and familiarity, the flashing sharpness of his wit, his awareness of the dangers of intimacy, and his fierce involvement with the nuances of language guards his poems against sentimentality. The undercurrent of possible – even if unpremeditated – savagery is rarely far from the surface of even his lightest pieces.”

Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer is filled with bits and pieces of Stobierski’s life fused with dreamscapes from his imagination that are at times beautifully romantic and, at others, hauntingly dark. Stobierski says his poetry often gives a voice to characters that otherwise might not be heard. Themes of family, sustenance, and loneliness emerge in poems both poignant and playful. Stobierski, who cites Billy Collins as one of his favorite artists, admits he has a fascination with words. His playful style is evident in poems like “Falling to Pieces”:

I fell to pieces today in the kitchen/where a shard of me got stuck/in my older brother’s toe./I asked him if it hurt and he said no;/I asked if I could have it back and he said/finders keepers/and scampered away/to compare it to the other bits of me/he’s hoarded over the years.

The piece ends on a soft note.

“I’m going to fall to pieces tomorrow in the bedroom/somewhere in the void between the sheets,/and you’re going to do the same./We’ll look at the pieces and trade with each other/and if you end up with the green of my right eye,/I’ll take your irrational fear of socks and say/fair trade/and we can work on putting each other back together,/stronger for the glue.

Stobierski plays with the reader again in “Gastronomica,” where he offers a new take on a boyfriend sampling his girlfriend’s cooking.

My girlfriend puts her heart and soul/into everything she cooks,/and it’s nice to know she loves me enough/to tear out those essentials and share –/don’t get me wrong –/but I don’t think she realizes just how chewy valves can be,/or how difficult it is to eat a waffled soul,/however much syrup is applied./Some things go down easier than others, /and Eggos are certainly kinder on the stomach.

Stobierski says he wrote most of the poems featured in the book during his last two years of college, when he was working for UConn’s literary journal, the Long River Review. He credits Barreca, associate professor Penelope Pelizzon, and English professors-in-residence Sharon Bryan and Darcie Dennigan with having the most significant influence on his writing.

The title of the book comes from a poem that Stobierski wrote while attending classes at UConn. While Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer tells us the story of the first time Stobierski was stung by a bee, it also reflects a larger tale of a young man’s struggle to find himself and his place in a world fraught with bees of all sorts.

There was a brother once – whether he was mine/I can’t recall – but he taught me the syntax/the secret language of bees./I was eight, and he had just scooped /a bumblebee out of our dog’s water dish,/and it sat there in his palm, vibrating itself dry./It was a wet cat of a bee;/it had gone too close to the water’s edge and fallen in/and would have drowned, /save this brother fished him out./It stayed nestled in his hand ‘til dry,/and that next spring my mother’s roses bloomed/with a fervor I’ve not seen before nor since.

Some men wear a beard of bees,/some harvest honey,/some acupunct their clients with a sting on the joints/to relieve a decade-old arthritic ache./To each his own./I sit in the clover and listen to bee songs –/their hungry songs, their happy songs,/their working songs, their lusting songs – I listen/and whisper my response and we are brothers, sisters/in the clover.

Looking forward, he says he would love to make a living as a writer and that he will always write. He has had several internships in the publishing world and enjoyed them, but is currently employed as an assistant to a project manager at a software development firm. He misses the college atmosphere.

“UConn was extremely influential on me,” Stobierski says. “It was a big four years of my life. It helped me come to terms with myself as a writer and as a person. It’s your first time away from home, you’re experimenting with different personalities, who you are and who you want to be. I can’t think of a place I would have rather spent those years than at UConn.”

You can read the full feature here. What has your experience been with alumni publications? Have you ever been interviewed by a friend or colleague? I sense a follow-up post coming along…

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‘Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer’ on sale for only $8.99!


So, Amazon notified me today that my book of poetry, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, was put on sale at 10% off — bringing its price down to only $8.99! I don’t know how long the sale will last for, but if you’ve at all been on the fence about buying a copy of the book, or you’ve been waiting for the right time, today’s the day. Also on sale at 10% off are two other Grey Sparrow/River Otter books, Bones Buried in the Dirt by David S. Atkinson and Shenanigans! by Joseph Michael Owens.

Pick up a copy today!

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Sundog Lit reviews Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer


While googling myself yesterday (I do it often) I stumbled across a review of my book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, on the Sundog Lit blog. It’s always such a wonderful surprise to learn what someone else thinks about your work — whether good or bad, at least they read it — and to see that they took the time to spread the word about it.

I’m glad to know that, according to this reviewer, I don’t suffer from any of the common pitfalls that plague so much of today’s poetry:

I don’t presume to know what makes a good poem or a bad poem.  Poetry can be fairly subjective.  But there are certain things that make me close my eyes in pity and sympathy for both the poet and the poem.  One is overused metaphors. … Then there’s the “I” illness.

Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer ‘s poems have none of these things.  The author gives us perfectly formed poems, ones that last for three lines to ones that last for a couple of pages.  His poems play with different structures, and end up perfectly suited to the poems themselves, and become part of the poem seamlessly.

The complement on form is another dear one for me — poets painstakingly seek the best form for each poem that they write. Form is important: it can influence pacing, meaning, everything, really. A good poem is one that cannot be divorced from the form that it is written in; a good poem makes the form become a part of it. I’m glad to see that I’ve succeeded in this struggle.

I’m also extremely proud to know that my book offers variety — hopefully enough to please anyone who picks up a copy:

I think what I loved about this collection of poems was the complexity of what Stobierski writes about.  He doesn’t just focus on love, or abandonment, or guilt, or sex or any one of the other things that poetry can often center around.  He gives us an offering of life, peeling it and separating it like an orange.  He talks about good love, bad love, Mario painting and Degas, abuse, the roots of your family and how the beginning travels to the end.  He talks about religion.  He talks about watching someone with Alzheimer’s.

For the full review, click here.

It seems to me that poetry, more than any other form of literature, is prone to any number of catastrophic miscalculations. Every time I send a submission out, I am plagued by the thought that my work just isn’t good enough — that I’ve fallen victim to one of these errors. But when I find a review from someone that I’ve never met, who truly enjoyed my work, it all feels worth it.

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Professor Gina Barreca visiting me at our table at the Boston AWP Bookfair!

Me with my wonderful professor, Dr. Gina Barreca, at the Grey Sparrow/River Otter table at the AWP Bookfair.

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‘Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer’ Reviewed on The Lit Pub


The Lit Pub has published a review of my book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, which is (in my opinion) extremely awesome. What makes the fact even more awesome, though, is the fact that this is the first review that my book has received.

Might I recommend a hearty ‘Hurrah!’ for that?

Written by David S. Atkinson, author of Bones Buried in the Dirt, the review examines a few of my poems and is, really, exactly the kind of review that an author should want. I’m grateful that someone has taken the time to not only read my book, but also to write about it. It’s a great honor.

From the review:

“I found the writing to be very approachable. That may not be a big deal for some of you, but I’m not exactly a poetry scholar. I like reading poetry, but I haven’t devoted the same kind of rigor to its study that I have to fiction.

All together, these poems span an impressive range. Whatever you are looking for, it’s probably here. And, more importantly, along the way you will likely find things you should have been looking for without knowing that you should have.”

This is probably the single greatest thing that the reviewer could have said about my work. When I write poetry, I try to write it so that it can be understood by people who may not have the strongest poetic background. I try to write so that anyone could pick up the poetry and understand it and (hopefully) enjoy it. Poetry is for everyone, not just for people who have had the opportunity to take a course on it or devote a lot of time to its study.

The fact that this has actually come through in the final product makes me proud; nothing could please me more.

You can find the rest of the review here.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts! What has your experience with reviews been? What has your experience with poetry been like?

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