Because my other obsessions involve more math than I have practical ability with, I found that writing offers a way to involve myself in those obsessions. From astrophysics to particle physics to chemistry, biology, or engineering, and for as long as I can remember, I have pursued interests which fascinate me. Unfortunately, I also never put the effort into my math classes that I did into my English classes. Once I took a creative writing class in high school, and through the benefit of an excellent teacher, I was hooked. But it was still a while before I found there was a way to combine the two obsessions. Writing and science don’t seem to always go together outside dry textbooks or more interesting, yet still technical, books like Brian Greene’s or Stephen Hawking’s. Reading magazines like Science and Nature—and even National Geographic—in the libraries throughout elementary school grounded in me a love for the fantastic progress and understanding humanity is making in our age. Storytelling around the dinner table and for classes in school grounded in me a love for words. Continue reading →
The Creative Writing program at ODU brings in a visiting writer each semester. This semester it’s Dorianne Laux (who you should definitely read, if you haven’t), and on Thusday she gave her craft lecture titled “The Marriage of Music and Meaning”.
This of course made me go back to my thesis and wonder whether I’m spending too much time in my head dealing with conceptualisms instead of the very real task of making music. Of course, the last poem that got published was written more in attention to sound than anything else: “god, you choke old stones down” has a great music (to me, at least).
While I haven’t been posting here (or at Poetic Idealism) lately, that’s not to say things haven’t been very busy.
One thing I’m very proud of is the state of the new issue of Barely South Review, which has taken up most of my time these past two weeks. It’s turned out beautifully, with no small thanks to the contributors who sent us wonderful materials to work with, and the staff who put in many long hours.
On the other hand, this workload also means my thesis has taken somewhat of a back seat recently. I’ve written a couple of new things, but still feel about fifteen poems short. These are in me somewhere, and now I have time to go mining for them.
For those of you who’ve been following the project here, you know I’ve been writing a lot of poems based around science, and specifically the disciplines of astrophysics and particle physics. They have tended to ask the reader to shift his/her viewpoint and maybe become uncomfortable with the poem. In particular, this stems from the poems’ atheistic / agnostic viewpoint, which is in conflict with the majority of (at least) American sense of order. A lot of them have also been a lot less grounded in the human experience, and more so in the explanation of how I see the universe.
Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
– Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Beyond the Big Bang”, The Universe, The History Channel, 2007
This collection of essays edited by Kurt Brown offers an interesting collection of writers, from those dealing in both poetry and science (Miroslav Holub), to poets intrigued by what science both unveils to and hides from us as people (just about everyone else). I have found a lot of interesting quotes in most of these essays (read here), and a lot that doesn’t quite fit inside the quotation format. Some ephemeral knowledge building that won’t quite fit into language right now.