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HOME > ON THE BOOKSHELF > May-June 2012 > Bookshelf Detail


Science and Poetry

Anna Lena Phillips

Poetry and science go way back: Over the centuries, they have occasionally gotten together, like old friends who find themselves in the same city and meet up for tea, only to head home the next day and lose touch again. Much has changed since the two disciplines’ earlier encounters—which resulted, for instance, in late-1700s scientific treatises written in poetic form. Poets who investigate scientific concepts, and scientists tempted by verse, are now crafting work that invites readers into scientific cultures and bodies of knowledge even as it raises questions about the research enterprise. The six books reviewed in this issue—five poetry collections and one book of essays—are a sample of recent work in poetry that engages with scientific and mathematical constructs. At the end of the section, we present new poems from four poets whose work is informed by science.

Poetry in the Wild: Emily Grosholz reviews Approaching Ice, by Elizabeth Bradfield, and Darwin: A Life in Poems, by Ruth Padel.

Quantum Metaphors: Robin Chapman reviews Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science, by Alice Major.

Querying Science: Rick Mullin reviews Hypotheticals, by Leigh Kotsilidis.

Songs of Scientists: Sarah Glaz reviews The Scientific Method, by Mary Alexandra Agner.

A Useful Pageant: Anna Lena Phillips reviews Between Page and Screen, by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse.


Projection, by Anna M. Evans

Mosquitoes, by Alison Hawthorne Deming

Baffle Gate, by Matthew Tierney

Holy Heathen Rhapsody, by Pattiann Rogers

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