Poetry & Science: Writing Our Way to Discovery
Edited by Lucille Lang Day
Five Essays with Poetry ~ 65 Pages
Price: $16.00
Publisher: Scarlet Tanager Books
ISBN: 978-1-7345313-3-6
To Order: www.spdbooks.org


It has been said that the themes of life are the themes of poetry. This phrase, which sounds somewhat cliché-ish, finds fresh meaning in a new anthology edited by Lucille Lang Day. Poetry & Science: Writing Our Way to Discovery amalgamates two themes of life that cannot be denied: poetry is important to humankind’s perspective on life; and, science is a key player in evaluating where we are as a people in relation to the world in which we live. Science offers research and data with a goal of excavating truth we can use. Poetry offers heart-felt emotion as the job of the poet involves both “heart” and “truth.” Both disciplines have their own light to shine on the path we travel. Poetry and Science is a powerful contributor to these noble ends.


“It is a privilege to sing the praises of Poetry and Science: Writing Our Way to Discovery. Five women poets discuss the thrilling connections between poetry and science in their poetry and lives and give the reader ample examples from their work and that of others. The curiosity of these poets is contagious, and reading the poems is a joy. As Lucille Lang Day says, poetry is ‘a medium for communicating the ideas of science and deepening our understanding of them.’ On our threatened, hurting planet, connecting with science and poetry has never been more essential.”
—Elizabeth J. Coleman, editor of HERE: Poems for the Planet

“This book of essays and poetry comes at a time when we most need more integration in our way of thinking about our connections to the natural world. Can we learn to see with the eye of a scientist and make cognitive leaps with the heart of a poet? These poets offer examples for how science has enriched their work and their capacity for wonder, and how poetry has deepened their relationships with the natural world. A must-read for poets and scientists both.”
—Melissa Tuckey, editor of Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology

“Where Poetry and Science particularly delights is in the personal nature of the pieces—how the poet-scientists and scientist-poets came to love science and poetry, how they are created by that broad mix and likewise help to further the discourse between and beyond the two. These are not, thankfully, just academic papers. They are, rather, personal essays supported by place- and science-rich poetry—they come from origin stories and conclude in what Alison Hawthorne Deming calls ‘applied poetics.’ They are captivating, masterful, essential.”
—Simmons Buntin, editor-in-chief of Terrain.org


Lucille Lang Day is the author of seven full-length poetry collections and four poetry chapbooks. Her latest collection is Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place. She has also coedited two anthologies—Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California and Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California—and published two children’s books and a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story. Her many honors include the Blue Light Poetry Prize, two PEN Oakland–Josephine Miles Literary Awards, the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, and eleven Pushcart Prize Nominations. The founder and publisher of a small press, Scarlet Tanager Books, she received her MA in English and MFA in creative writing at San Francisco State University, and BA in biological sciences, MA in Zoology, and PhD in science/mathematics education at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Oakland, California.


Right Whale: Death as a Spectacle
by Elizabeth Bradfield

The bulk ashore not yet fetid, but surely
close. Tire tracks deep in sand where tractors
tried to haul it up, chain around the tail stock.

There was a steady stream of visitors, for who
wouldn’t want to see or didn’t feel obliged
to stand near and take measure of

a right whale on the beach? Still, I don’t know
that it was anything good in me, anything kind
or gentle that made me think my grandmother,

visiting, would want to be there. We trudged
into a hard wind toward the yellow flags
staked around books of flensed blubber.

Biologists clambered the ribs and bonnet,
measuring, cutting in, digging for cause.
I was young. Bulk and death fascinated me, but

my grandmother had already put behind her tonnages
of grief. The colors of the flesh—black skin, white fat,
red meat—were steeped in late fall light. Baleen listed

from its jaw, nodding to wind, waves, footsteps over the body.
How beautiful, I thought. How lucky. How sad.
This was a spectacle and, too, a reprobation of spectacle.

Her face was composed in the soft blank of looking.
Really, I have no idea what she thought.


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