Exploring a tangled, unsettled love for place amid the landscape, cultures, and social and ecological crises of South Louisiana, ARK HIVE seeks amid the ruins for answers—what does it mean to be here, now? Following the ley-lines carved out in the streets and bayous of a rapidly eroding landscape, this collection refuses stability, confident of only the riddle and the manifold voices activating it. Reed’s formal hybridity juxtaposes hand-made maps, collaged language, and altered documents with lyrics and lyric essays: “fragments [from] journals, photographs, memory, archives—time capsule of a disintegrating world.” ARK HIVE bears its loves and dead along the current of the work’s own profligate vegetative urge—accretions of history and immersion, saturations of grief and delight. Tender and monumental, a teeming hive of voices, ARK HIVE returns an extraordinary, vanishing world to the center of our attention.


"There are locations—like Hawai’i, like Louisiana—where cultures are unique to the place, and outsiders are made to know themselves from insiders. As a poet familiar with issues of appropriation and theft, Marthe Reed asked herself how a Californian who had lived in Providence and Perth, could write about Louisiana, a place she loved over her many years of living in Lafayette. “Writing Louisiana, outsider-inside, poles of affection and alienation push and pull against me.” Her answer was to piece together an archive, and to write an epic from its documents: photographs, maps, names of birds, travel journals, histories, languages. What ultimately brings this material to life are the heart-lyrics stitched through the whole: from “threnody”: “I keep the contents of my heart / stacked in wet clay / heavy with downpour,” where “behind the grate the small / eyes of an armadillo / muted reek / of urine and feces[.]” The threnody she wrote was for a beautiful, fraught, and fragile place. It grieves me to write my paragraph in the past tense. Shortly before she died she told me, “We’re all going to die and no one will remember us; it’s ok.” We are here to remember her and this ravishing, important, necessary work." --Susan M. Schultz

Ark Hive: A Memoir of South Louisiana