Poetry About Physicists

Reading this article reminds me that I forgot to talk about the poetry reading from a few weeks ago. In lieu of a regular colloquium talk one week this term, we co-hosted a poetry reading by George Drew, a local poet with a book of physics-themed poems.

There are some sample poems on that site, which give you an idea of the flavor of the thing (I don’t think he read any of those specific poems, but they’re fairly representative). They aren’t so much poems about physics principles as they are poems about the history of physics– lots of imaginary letters from one famous 20th Century physicist to another, and that sort of thing.

I wish I could enthusiastically praise or damn them, but really, I’m sort of lukewarm on poetry in general, so it’s no surprise that my reaction to these particular poems was sort of lukewarm. Some of them were good, some of them suffered from the usual problem of science-themed poetry, namely trying too hard to cram Science into the poem, leading to some really strained metaphors. There was a nice re-telling the story of Adam and Eve largely from the point of view of an Adam suffering the world’s first and worst hangover (I’m not sure if it’s in the book, though), but most of them weren’t as memorable.

Anyway, on the off chance that anyone is interested in poetry about physics, there’s a book to check out.

Comments

  1. #1 sho
    April 18, 2006

    My favorite science-referenced (I think) poem was by non-scientist, ee cummings. pity this busy monster, manunkind

    “electrons deify one razorblade
    into a mountainrange;lenses extend

    unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
    returns on its unself.”

    I never realized it until some optics lab experiment on fresnel diffraction…

  2. #2 Uncle Al
    April 18, 2006

    That physics is truly absurd,
    Is surely the gist of the word.
    What is it off piss him?
    Diffeomorphism!
    Diversity lands like a turd.

    (No apologies, no regrets)

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