Robert Crawford

Shortly before my father died, I began to use a computer for the first time. It was in my office at work, and I'm not sure he ever saw it. For over a year after it was installed I didn't do anything with it. Now at least I use it as a word-processor, and summon up one or two databases. Once, when it broke down, a technician came and prized open its casing, revealing drab chips and wiring. But when it is working in its closed body, it has its own sense of animation and activity. What appears on...

By Martin Conway

Images of the self exist in every memory. The analogy between memories and a hologram is a good one, although what is seen through the shards of mental glass that are memories is not only something from the past but also something from the present. The rememberer exists now and the memory is constructed from different fragments glued together by more abstract knowledge of one's life, reflecting a self that is past and a self that you may or may not like to meet again. Discrepancies between what...

Acknowledgements

Firstly, thanks are due to Ian Wall of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, who knew I had written a number of poems about science, and talked me into running a programme of events from which this book grew. At a later stage the Sciarts scheme run by the Wellcome Trust with support from the Arts Council of England made it possible to bring together poets and scientists for the meetings which resulted in the poems in this book. Birgit Arends was very helpful in supporting this project,...

By Andrew Riches

Having read a few of Don Paterson's poems before I met him, I was aware of his craftsmanship with language, and the careful selection and juxtaposition of words in his work. For example, in his poem 'The Sea at Brighton' I was quite taken with the image of 'The bird . that skites over its blank flags', and in 'The White Lie' I liked 'nor could I put a name to my own face'. When I spoke to him I realized that I was ignorant of the strategies for a poem's construction. Don talked about rhymed...

Edwin Morgan

Links between poetry and science, far from being rare and strange, are actually quite hard to avoid, if one takes the whole history of poetry into account. Well-known names line up to be considered Lucretius, Dante, Milton, Goethe, Shelley, Leopardi, to which you might add Omar Khayyam, famous in the West as a poet but more famous in his own country of Persia as a mathematician and astronomer, and Virgil, whose Georgics is a fine poem but at the same time a manual of agriculture and animal...

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

The radiance of that star that leans on me Was shining years ago. The light that now Glitters up there my eye may never see, And so the time lag teases me with how Love that loves now may not reach me until Its first desire is spent. The star's impulse Must wait for eyes to claim it beautiful And love arrived may find us somewhere else. In spite of a good education I came to appreciate music late in life, and to appreciate poetry even later. The turning point can be identified I had done a talk...

John Burnside

A small fishing town on the east coast of Scotland November, 2002, the first day of the (pagan) year. The night was stormy and this morning the wind is still high lines of townsfolk have formed at the breakwater to watch the great waves smash against the wall, coming out from rooms haunted by television and muzak, bringing their children to see, bringing cameras and binoculars, a little awed, in spite of themselves, at this great spectacle of the real. I am taking my son on our usual walk to...

Contents

Rampage, or Science in Poetry 11 Don Paterson, introduced by Andrew Riches Poetry and Virtual Realities 27 Michael Donaghy, introduced by Kevin Warwick Robert Crawford, introduced by Rona R. Ramsay Testament and Confessions of an Informationist 72 W. N. Herbert, introduced by Martin Conway A Science of Belonging Poetry as Ecology 91 'Steinar undir Steinahlithum' 107 John Burnside, introduced by R. M. M. Crawford Modelling the Universe Poetry, Science, John Glenday, introduced by Eric Priest 'A...

Ii

B. Yeats remarked, A friend of mine is accustomed to say that there is poetry and there is prose, and there is something which, though often most interesting, and even moving, is yet neither one nor the other. To this he applies the curious term 'noetry' a word ingenious persons derive from the Greek word nous, and consider descriptive of verse which, though full of intellectual faculty, is lacking in imaginative impulse.7 This comment may have a...

By Kevin Warwick

From Puccini to Geri Halliwell, from Monet to David Hockney, from Delibes' music to jewellery that changes colour, my brush with art was sorted. Poetry was never high on the agenda, after I waved goodbye, at school, to the Assyrian's coming down and a fair measure of half a league, half a league. So the chance of meeting with a modern-day poet was a delightful injection of diversity. Lunch with Michael Donaghy surprised me, with discussion ranging from my own Cyborg research, linking implants...

Fistful of Foraminifera

Painted rose or ochre, saffron, chalk, some blown steady as glass the pellucid private chamber of a tear. The balanced simplicity of a singlecelled cell, busy with its business banners coursing the waters, furbelows, scarves, ragged skirts brief tactful netting, shy gestures of touch. Their filigree mansions are chambered with secrets auricular passageways give onto galleries, their galaxies carpet the depths of the oceans, They conjure their houses from flotsam and jetsam, tucking grains...

John Burnside And R M M Crawford

Not that farming was easy. In the isles of the North Atlantic the coming of spring was always uncertain. Summers were doubtful, and when Hekla erupted harvests failed for years, all the way from Iceland to the Hebrides. The warmth of the ocean that gave them their winter pastures, also brought the rain that washed their soils for twelve months in the year, rendering them even poorer in nutrients. The forests that once clad the hillsides soon vanished and with them...

Miroslav Holub

When asked what is the difference between a poet and a scientist-poet, I usually reply that for the scientist-poet ten minutes is exactly ten minutes. This definition comes, of course, from long experience with poetry readings by thoroughbred poets, and from scientific workshops where the chairperson would turn off the microphone after the allotted ten minutes even if you were just presenting a new Theory of Everything. But my ten minutes definition also has a broader meaning. In science one...

John Glenday And Eric Priest

Often surprising and only revealing themselves after pondering and re-reading. Many of them are concerned with life and death and with time. So I waited expectantly for a poem to arrive by email and was not in the least disappointed. It is clearly in John's style and has many of the common features of his earlier poems. At first I was surprised at how unscientific it is wilfully so, as John remarked , but I do like it a lot. The Sun, not even mentioned in the poem by name but clearly its theme,...

By Rona R Ramsay

The day I received Robert Crawford's poem, my initial impression of 'Biology' was that it lacked logic, the essence of science. The lack of logic made it alien to me as a written communication. It would never get past peer review by a picky scientist. Alienation came too from the use of words out of context, 'lost in translation' from science to poetry. Words such as 'carnitine', a specific recognition molecule in the cell, jump out from amongst the non-specific terms around them abstruse...