I’ve been itching to feature this poem all summer, but I restrained myself until the timing was right — and now it is!
This week, I’m working on Andrew Hudgins’s sublime “Wasps in August.” You can hear Professor Hudgins read the poem here, at Slate (text too). And you should immediately go find Ecstatic in the Poison, from which this poem comes. I own two copies, and I am, sad to say, not sharing.
Professor Hudgins is one of the best living formalist poets, and a kind and funny man to boot (he teaches at The Ohio State University, alma mater of your humble blogger). I’ve never had the pleasure of taking his classes, but my friends who did treasure the experience. He was gracious enough to support the campus literary magazine and its young poets, and he was (and is) a highly-regarded mentor to new poets.
This poem describes the dying days of the wasps outside the speaker’s home, who defend and nurture their larvae in the nest. But it’s about more than that: frailty, death, rebirth, renewal, futility . . . I could go on.
The last line will floor you.