I’m going to be joining fellow Wyvern poets for a Franken-poetical event on Wednesday November 21st at 17.30 in The Global Room at Dundee University. As part of this year’s Being Human festival, we are celebrating the 200th anniversary year of the publication of Frankenstein with readings of new poems ruminating on Frankenstein, technology and identity, and Mary Shelly’s own early association with Dundee.
Tickets are available free from eventbrite.
This month’s prompt from Wyvern Poets was ‘a found poem’. I’d been looking at tweets by Martin O’Leary with images from HiRISE, an incredibly high resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter.
The pictures are amazing. Some of them make me think of colour field paintings by Rothko, some of lush folds of the richest silks. The titles of the images interested me too. They seem to make an accidental blend of succinct description and (at least to my ears) sensuously exotic place names.
I decided to make a piece that brought these titles and images together with some found words by another famous traveler to strange lands – Marco Polo.
The result was this found poem/video.
With special thanks to NASA/JPL/University of Arizona for the use of their fabulous images, and to Martin O’Leary for @HiRISEBot.
Of the Marvels
Best viewed with sound ON, and better yet, some nice cosy headphones…
This poem was written after reading an article in New Scientist recently. The article shone a light on current thinking about human brain transplantation.
As the magazine’s leader suggested, whatever we might think about some of the ideas discussed, it is important that they are talked about. Scrutiny matters.
The title of the poem refers to a
World War I airman’s song:
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me:
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling / They’ve got the goods for me.
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling? / Oh! Grave, thy victory?
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me.
The man who would transplant
a human head, or properly,
exchange a human frame,
Frankenstein or Doctor Strange?
He talks his plan, so far so good,
and sure, well, perhaps, maybe?
Until chillier air keens a chime,
whispering the unsafe word,
An itinerary reminder bings aloud,
it’s Monday, almost midday,
whether my head is there or absentee,
in two minutes the Bute in test
will scream alarm like a scorched banshee.
And in my arms a little twitch,
fingers flicker startle ready,
fumbling set to save my ears – fair warning
for you and for me.
Darren McFarlane’s painting of D’Arcy subject to one of his own mathematical transformations!
I enjoyed a visit to the exhibition Harmonious Complexity at the University of Dundee Tower Building. This is part of a season of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of D’Arcy Thompson’s book On Grown and Form. Continue reading
I originally wrote this intending to send it in to Visual Verse for a great image of a horse by Bruce Connew. I never got around to it, and I’d forgotten about the poem until I happened on it today. Anyway, I still kinda like it, I hope you will too. As often from me, there’s also some sciencey inspiration – see below…
Karen McComb, who heads the research group and co-lead author of the study, said “Horses may have adopted an ancestral ability for reading emotional cues in other horses to respond appropriately to human facial expressions during their co-evolution. Alternatively, individual horses may have learned to interpret human expressions during their own lifetime.”
Source: ‘Horses can recognise human emotion, study shows’ Guardian 10/2/2016
scary sounds tinder
my right brain.
my left eye
you. your voice. angry. anger. danger. is it?
do i? do we? does the herd?
set, set, set.
my heart revs.
a dren a lin.
ready, twitch, ready.
time made your mood our threat.
your anger the wolf on the prairie.
your impatience an adder under-grass.
your oath hard iron in flight.
so if you don’t need to, just don’t.
step calm. breathe gentle.
speak less. listen more.
hear. my. gaze.
A while back I half joked with a colleague at work who was asking about a website for a conference for international researchers studying krill – “I could write you a poem as well, if you like.” He was back in touch with another question last week, and asked in passing, “Did you ever write that poem?” Well, I hadn’t, but I have now – so here you go, Andy!
My apologies to any krill-gurus out there for possible wild inaccuracies, but please remember, it’s not science – just a poem.
But also, it’s not entirely about krill…
We are krill
I am the meal that’s in-between,
a format suiting one and all,
for seals and squid and penguins,
converting the smallest of the sea,
for fish and shrimps and people, the
unseen convenience food that’s me.
No legends sung about us krills,
shape shifters of seven seas,
they ping us under pressure,
exoskeletons creaking we dive, dive, dive,
cosy swarm lights rising fallen,
gills bless this brine to wines of life.
More of us aswim than any other
swelling life in each ocean alive,
and not much here without us,
no great whales baleen or blue,
without some fish-free small fry,
brother, without us – me and you.
SciArt Magazine has published an interview I did following up on my work in the recent ‘Embodied‘ exhibit. They had some hard questions!