Category Archives: animal

Sea symphonies

I’m delighted to have a poem (and some artwork) included as an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Issue 5 of Consilience, the journal of poetry and science.

The theme of issue 5 was Rhythm and my poem is about remarkable research by researchers from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews studying the songs of humpback whales in the South Pacific.

There is also a reading in the Consilience podcast.

See https://www.consilience-journal.com/issue-5

more about the background to this poem


Poetry and Science Podcast

I’m very excited to be joining in a podcast by La Ninfa Eco international literary site later this month. The show is about poetry and science, and will feature the Consilience Journal team members, and items from several Consilience contributors.

Special Guests: Sam Illingworth, Steve Smart, Stephen Paul Wren, Ruth Aylett, Angie Lo, Miranda L. Barnes, Clint Wastling & Kate Jenkinson.

Host: Gaby Sambuccetti

Date: 26th May 2021

Time: 3.30 pm (BST)

Click for details about contributors and this episode which will stream live on La Ninfa Eco social media platforms.


To Dundee FC early 1900s

Pleased that my eccentric wee poem ‘To Dundee FC early 1900s’ found a spot in POETRY SCOTLAND‘s sheet for ne’er-do-wells and troublemakers ‘Gallus’ (Scots: bold, cheeky or flashy) – about the right place for it, I suspect!

Not so much a football item really, maybe more of a photography or a time-travel poem. Trouble indeed…


Sea Symphonies

I don’t think I’ve written a poem inspired by a diagram before. This particular diagram came to my attention as part of my “day job” as a designer. Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on graphics and media for an exhibition at Dundee Science Centre about research studying the songs of humpback whales in the South Pacific. The study was undertaken by researchers from the Sea Mammal Research Unit of the University of St Andrews.

It’s fascinating work, and one piece of it is distilled in a diagram made by Dr Ellen Garland and her colleagues. It shows how humpback songs recorded by scientists over a 10 year period have not only travelled regularly in a west-to-east pattern over a 10,000km long stretch of the Pacific, but have changed year-on-year as humpback whales learn each new season’s “score” and sing it across the ocean. You can find out more about this remarkable, and as yet little understood observation of whale culture on Ellen’s website.

The more I thought about Ellen’s diagram, the more I came to feel how deceptively simple it was. I think that as you look more and gain a sense structure over time, you realise this is showing something genuinely astonishing, that had previously been so hard to see (or hear!) as to be effectively invisible.

June 2021:  I’m delighted to have this poem (and some artwork) included as an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Issue 5 of Consilience, the journal of poetry and science.

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The exhibition at Dundee Science Centre was supported by the Royal Society, the University of St Andrews, and Dundee Science Centre. It’s aimed at children, but there is lots for anyone to enjoy and find out. It launched on Saturday 28th September, and will be open for several months.


Walking out the words

Back in December I posted about The Curlew publishing one of my poems called ‘Horizoned’. Recently the editor got in touch with me to ask about using the poem for some teaching she is planning, and if I could record something about my motivation in making this kind of poem. I was delighted to do this of course, but I thought it might be fun to try to show something about what goes into some of my ‘wandering’ poems.

Really I wanted to take people on a wee walk, because there is something about being there (and getting there!) that is essentially important. An aspect of embodied poetry perhaps.

There’s a long tradition of walking poets – the Wordsworths and Bashō prominent among them. When I googled about the topic I found some fantastic work by Mike Collier of the University of Sunderland which is well worth a look.

Here is my wee piece, with a reading at the end. I tried to cover the questions of what and why seriously, but answering using images, sound and physical effort(!) as well as words. I hope the result is entertaining as well as informative…

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More posts about walking.

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