poem + science – 8th dec

Today – 8th December 2016 was the last class of my options unit Sci-Art. And like how all beautiful things have a perfect ending, in the same way, this day was ended in a perfect yet an interesting way.

Sam spoke to us about the interdisciplinary connections between poetic and scientific creativity. He told us how he uses poems to understand and simplify things in his scientific research practice.

Poetry and science go way back. Dante an Italian poet of late middle ages wrote a poem ‘The Divine Comedy’ – 1320 which draws a picture of his imaginative and visionary journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. In late 1700s scientific treaties were written in poetic form. In 1800s Lewis Carrol an English writer, mathematician, and logician experimented with a mathematical logic to create the square stanza. In 1984 physicist W.V Storey published a paper on the detection of shocked co-emission as a 38 stanza poem. There’s a book of poems on Charles Darwin’s writings, letters, journals and scientific theories published by Ruth Padel.

This shows that poetry isn’t one thing that serves one purpose but it is a way which gives a clear understanding of techniques and patterns. It adds passion and emotion into words. Poems are used as a form to communicate science creatively. A research shows that reading poetry increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain and it also helps in better understanding and picturing things that people read. For instance, I myself understand things when I picture it in a classical or comical way than just reading it as a theory. So for me, this research is truly relevant.

Coming to poetry and science, they seem like two opposite subjects but they are the two rare paths which have been interlaced long time ago. Both deals with the nature of reality, and they both explore & convey complicated things that the natural world has to offer the mankind in a specified and easy manner. The basic conjecture for both science and poetry is to focus on details, procedure, particulars, objects and to convey the end result by having a rough thought & to see it through conclusion. Frontiers in neurology reported that expression of science through poetry could enrich the power of imagination to deconstruct and reconstruct the learned knowledge.

In class, we were introduced to two forms of poetry by Sam, known as Haiku and Nonet. Haiku is a traditional Japanese poem used to capture or paint a picture of nature, in which the 1st sentence sets the scene and the 2nd & 3rd sets the place. Whereas nonet is a nine line poem that can be written on any subject.

To put all my research into action, I did try to write a few poems. While Sam’s poems mostly explain scientific research practice, my poems are regarding my MFA practice on the atmosphere of a place and its user experience.

My first Haiku – which I wrote in Sci-art class.

Far hills in the north pole

The cold air freezes you

But the memories warm you up.

Now that they warm you up

But also they tear you apart

Like a glacier broken into pieces.

   – Sharanya Shekar

Expression and thoughts on images

1. The tree

(Source: online)

Tree, that’s me. I am always not alone.

I have a lot of friends – the birds nest on me.

I help them stand, I give them shelter.

My other friend – the wind pulls me down, pulls me hard.

I sometimes have to be strong,

To hold myself to the ground

And not to fall apart.

– Sharanya Shekar

2. The bird

(Source: online)

On a gentle sunny day,

A tiny bird takes its 1st flight.

Doing cartwheels in the wind,

It sails above as day turns into night.

Then he rests on a branch for an hour,

Reaches for the sky with power.

He knows not what he’s looking for,

He just opens his wings and soars.

– Sharanya shekar

Sounds of places

1. Crowded place

(Source: online)

As I walk in the bizarre place,

People all around me – stroking me in darkness.

I cant take it anymore,

Should I be one of them or not?

Its people, its noise, its movement

Faster than time.

Can I stand alone

He thinks!

-Sharanya Shekar

2. Cemetery

(Source: online)

Waiting all over our life to find happiness,

At the end, we live our-self behind

To become a part of a new place.

Is it better than this place or is it not.

Is it a humans way to find

Answers to his questions and a better living.

-Sharanya Shekar

3. Tropical forest 

(Source: online)

As I walk alone – the creeper, the wet soil

The beautiful smell, the water droplet sound

It feels fresh like a new raised bud,

Entered into a new world.

But can I live here forever

But have taken away nature’s home.

Have I! Have I!

-Sharanya Shekar

These poems draw light on a man’s feelings and emotions when he’s put into different atmospheric situations. But the sad part is none of my poems follow any pattern or format in which a poem needs to be written. I have just used it to express feelings and thoughts in a poetical manner.

Bibliography : 

Science vs. Poetry by Sam Illingworth | PLOS SciComm (2015) Available at: http://blogs.plos.org/scicomm/2015/11/09/science-vs-poetry/ (Accessed: 10 December 2016).

telescoper (2011) The black stars. Available at: https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/the-black-stars/ (Accessed: 10 December 2016).

SUMMERS, J. and TimeShadow (2000) A poet’s writing resource. Available at: http://www.shadowpoetry.com/ (Accessed: 10 December 2016).

Phillips, A.L. (2016) American scientist. Available at: http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/science-and-poetry (Accessed: 15 December 2016).

Illingworth, S. (2016) ‘The poetry of science’, 12 December. Available at: http://thepoetryofscience.scienceblog.com/ (Accessed: 18 December 2016).

Poetry and science (2012) Available at: https://www.creativenonfiction.org/online-reading/poetry-and-science-view-divide (Accessed: 20 December 2016).

Bhatt, Z. (2016) The love affair between science and poetry. Available at: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/poetry/2016/06/love-affair-between-science-and-poetry (Accessed: 20 December 2016).

TED (2014) Stephen Burt: Why people need poetry. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08ZWROqoTZo (Accessed: 16 December 2016).

TEDx Talks (2013) Poetry: Why it is important: Scott Griffin at TEDxBishopsU. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BzxTgeoCcY (Accessed: 16 December 2016).

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (2010) The poetry of science: Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RExQFZzHXQ (Accessed: 16 December 2016).

Illingworth, S. (2017) The poetry of science. Available at: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-poetry-of-science/ (Accessed: 13 December 2016).


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