Chelsea Woodard’s Solitary Bee is a gorgeous book by a truly gifted writer. She has a painter’s eye for color and detail and the easygoing eloquence to animate the people and the places of her life. In poem after poem, in which, like the collection itself, “each element conspires / to shape the whole,” Ms. Woodard tours parts of a world we probably missed and takes us with her to surprising and lovely conclusions.

 — Greg Williamson

 Chelsea Woodard has written a grown woman’s book of poems — meaning a chronicle of how the world looks and feels from the perspectives of felt truth and family history. Ms. Woodard’s view is rural, New England-ish, possessed of Dickinson’s intensity in nature’s fact and Emerson’s loving faith in good turns of heart and song. She writes an elegant sentence, has a painterly eye, commands narrative as she might have once steered horse-and-plow, and is as soaked in her place as was Mr. Frost. What more could any reader want than the memorable poems found in Solitary Bee? One feels her confident voice, her touch — and thinks this, too, is my life.

 — Dave Smith

 Like Robert Frost, Chelsea Woodard is “versed in country things,” and Solitary Bee evokes the natural world — especially the flora, fauna, and weather of her native New England — in magnificent detail. But her landscapes are peopled too, and she examines the shifting tenors of human relationships with the same generous attention, the same appreciation for the slow work of understanding. The artistry of these poems is striking, exceeded only by their mighty compassion. What a beautiful book! 

 — Caki Wilkinson

 Chelsea Woodard inhabits a world of charged artifacts that are the tangible reminders of the history we embody and of our generational, generative connections to each other. It is a world where “farmhouse beams hold hatchet marks —  // showing each cut of how they fell,” a place with “each hand-cut beam fixed, sturdy, to its post.” Yet the pastoral stakes its claim in her collection, too, with lupines and lilacs, amaryllis and bluebead lilies. Such articulate abundance! In her eloquent, musically surprising, and deeply wise poems, she gives us again and again a vision in which the elements combine so that we may know where the individual self can be found — “in what shelter, in what warmth” — in a world that feels richly, remarkably whole.

— Stephen Kampa



Order from:

Chelsea Woodard’s first collection, Vellum, was published by Able Muse Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Southwest Review, Blackbird, American Life in Poetry, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in New Hampshire.