Poetry for Scientists

This is a continuation of poetry book recommendations (see Poetry for Memoirists). People think poetry is intimidating, hard, stupid, a waste of time, and irrelevant. Wrong, all wrong. Poetry is a condensed, evocative snapshot of the world inside and outside of your head. You don’t have to “get” a poem. Just read it and see what you like and what you don’t like. Slow down and read it once again. It’s quite a bit like facebook posts, only without those irritating typos.

My uncle’s new theory is that only poets can explain quantum mechanics. I think he’s overly optimistic on what poets can do. But maybe at least we can make up some interesting things about it or say something cryptic that will make people think we know what we’re talking about.

Here are some poets who write about science one way or the other. It is highly biased toward my tastes.

Open Interval: Many years ago, I heard poet Lyrae Van-Clief Stefanon read a poem connecting men in prison looking up at the stars and Harriet Tubman following the drinking gourd and have been waiting for this collection ever since. Here it is. She also writes about quasars.

Talvikki Ansel: Unfortunately her book “Jetty” is no longer available new, but you should be able to buy it used. Her first book includes a long section about her biological field work in South America.

Kimiko Hahn: Toxic Flora is a book of poems inspired by articles in Science Times. I have long been a fan of Hahn’s work and I’m buying this book as soon as I finish this damn blog post. You should too.

David Baker: Midwestern Eclogue includes a gorgeous sequence about the heart in all its symbolic and medical detail.

Magnetic South: And for those of you in the antipodes, here is Sue Wootton’s Magnetic South, which is a beautiful book about physics and love, in short, the good stuff.

What do you recommend?

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