‘Bee’ Reviewed: The Life of Galileo

The Life of Galileo 1
It left Nyx with a lot to think about…

This week on ‘Bee’ Reviewed we have a fictional but historical science play – The Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht*. Similar to Michael Frayn’s famous Copenhagen, Brecht seeks to imagine the historical life of a scientist – though he extrapolates beyond one isolated moment and portrays a fictional accounting of most of Galileo’s life. The book follows his early years with an apprentice, his controversy with the church and subsequent house arrest for supporting the heliocentric theory of the universe, and finally his last act of defiance, the dissemination of his collected scientific work.

The play has received both praise and criticism for it’s treatment of Galileo; Galileo is a ‘struggling’ underdog – defined, in large part, by his self-interest and not any sense of ‘heroism’ through defying the church. He has several ugly vices that serve to paint him as an un-heroic, occasionally unsympathetic, character – certainly an unscrupulous one. And yet he is still very much the underdog, pushing for truth and science as much as his self-interest will allow, against the overpowering institution of the church. Despite his less-than-stellar qualities, we’re still rooting for him to win.

People come down on both sides of the argument regarding this characterization – some love the humanizing effect that the vices have on Galileo, showing scientists are still ordinary men with fears and bad habits, others felt it did him a disservice by not painting him as a historical hero, bravely fighting for truth against extreme adversity. This debate is exacerbated by the many liberties Brecht took when portraying Galileo’s personal life, going so far as to change the real details of his relationship with his daughter (among other fabrications). While the science and struggle with the church are generally seen as historically sound if still fictionalized accounts, the portrayal of Galileo’s personal life in the play is questionable at best.

This play is a fast and entertaining read; it’s filled with humor as much as tragedy and hard decisions, and I loved immersing myself in Galileo’s struggle, a man who (unscrupulous or not!) changed the face of science. The dogma v. science debate is very obvious in the play and hangs a heavy cloud over the work – to be expected, given that this debate was the heart of Galileo’s everyday life. The dialogue is well-written; the monologues are moving. Despite (obviously) knowing the end of the play, I found the interactions between Galileo and members of the church to be surprisingly suspenseful. If you’re a fan of science plays, or the history of science, I would recommend reading this play; while it may not be the most accurate portrayal of Galileo the person, it does a good job showing off his science, dealing with the human nature of scientists, and portraying the important dogma v. discovery debate. One of my favorite lines:

“THE LITTLE MONK: But won’t the truth, if it is the truth, prevail – with or without us?

“GALILEO: No. No no. As much of the truth will prevail that we make prevail.”

*Please note that Brecht produced many versions of this play – the one I read was The National Theater Version, Translated by Howard Brenton, first published by Eyre Methuen Ltd in 1980.

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: Wicked Bugs

In a rare moment of good behavior, Nyx let me take a gorgeous photo of her... in one try.
In a rare moment of good behavior, Nyx let me take a gorgeous photo of her… in one try. #blessed

This week on ‘bee’ reviewed is a really fun book  – an easy read for most anyone to get into, today we’re looking at Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart. I love Stewart’s work (she also wrote Wicked Plants and was selected to be this years editor of The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016), I’m admittedly fascinated by bugs, and Stewart signed my copy when my mom bought it from her (thanks mom!), so I may be a tad biased but seriously, I promise this book is for everyone.

The book begins with a cheerful warning: We are outnumbered! and indeed, we are with a ratio of approximately one human to every two hundred million insects on this planet. Stewart then launches into a book filled with fascinating insects – from the painful bullet ant to the disease-carrying rat flea (that brought the Black Death to Europe) to the terrifying Asian giant hornet. Interspersed among these humorous, informative, and brief tales about various ‘bad’ bugs are beautiful black and white drawings and humorous collections of stories (for example: ‘She’s just not that into you’ which details the terrible dating experiences of insects like fireflies, banana slugs, and praying mantids). The book is filled with saccharine and morbid humor as Stewart conquers subjects like Zombies, Bookworms, and Bugs of War with finesse and even charm.

I missed the 'beware' memo and now I'm an entomologist...
I missed the ‘beware’ memo and now I’m an entomologist…

This book is such a fun book, to me, because it can be read in short bursts, all containing humor and all so brief that you don’t get bogged down in detail. It’s like a serious of short comedic sketches by Adam Ruins Everything – self-contained, very informative and all about bugs. Stewart does a masterful job organizing the collections and her voice is aware, full of awe, and sometimes a bit of horror. It’s a conversation about how awesome and inspiring and terrifying nature can be. Stewart uses language that everyone can understand – the book is not written for a serious entomologist but for the everyday explorer, someone who wants to know a little bit more about the possibilities of outside from the safety of… you know, inside. Stewart’s writing is fluid and easy to read; her sentences are not poetic or lyrical, working instead to be straightforward and appeal to every reader. Stewart is a masterful writer but she wants the bugs to get the spotlight – in this book she writes clearly while letting the writing itself fade into the background behind the message.

If you’re grossed out by even the most innocuous carpenter ant and have nightmares about honey bees (awwww) then this book is not for you – you will not feel better about going out in the world after reading it. But for those with a fairly self-contained imagination, a sense of natural curiosity, or a general understanding of geography (i.e. not all these bugs live near you), give this book a shot. I think you’ll bee glad you did.

Hah. See what I did there?

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: A Number by Caryl Churchill

A Number 2
Nyx ponders: “Am I a clone?”

This week on ‘Bee’ Reviewed is one of the more unique plays that I’ve come across, A Number by Caryl Churchill was first staged in 2002. The play was produced around the time of the Dolly sheep cloning experiment and clearly is impacted by the ethical, moral, legal, etc. complications that cloning poses to our society.

Salter, an aging father, meets with three of his sons (two clones, one not) throughout the course of the play; he spends some of the play lying to them lying to them (in order to try to keep his growing web of lies straight) and some of it talking honestly with them about past mistakes. Bernard 1 is his first son, one he felt he didn’t raise properly, hence he cloned him into Bernard 2 to try again. Near the end of the play, with both Bernard 1 and 2 out of the picture (boy, does this part of the play happen fast!) he goes to visit another clone he’d never met, Michael Black. The two have a frustrating conversation that leaves Salter unfulfilled but speaks to whether our nature or nurture controls our attitudes and behaviors.

The play deals with ethical concerns surrounding cloning, for example how it might alter family structure and filial connections, and also ponders the nature v. nurture debate (the issue of identity is a frequent theme). I would say it ‘lightly’ or ‘loosely’ does this, because the play uses so few words and has so few events, but nothing about this play really feels light. Churchill never tells you what to think, but the sparseness of language, action, and cast leave you hungry and force you to fill in some very deliberate gaps in thought yourself.

I’ve never felt so winded by reading a play – it’s so fast paced that you’ve nearly finished it before you realize you’ve begun and so you have to read it over to make sure you caught everything. And boy oh boy is there a lot to catch – in a play of mostly white space, Churchill spins a dense, compelling, thought-provoking narrative with hardly anything happening on stage and only two actors. The emotions of the characters, despite the brevity of the dialogue, are very real and apparent and I got a good sense of each character and their motivation by the second time through the play. The plot, which happens mostly offstage and is recounted, is very suspenseful and makes for a good, chronological framework for the otherwise floating dialogue.

A Number 1
Nyx looks for answers: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

I honestly feel this play would be much better performed than read but it’s still a worthy read for anyone even remotely interested in the intersection of scientific and social ethics or those fascinated by cloning. Readers beware the speed of the play – force yourself to slow down or you’ll just end up confused and irritated instead of amazed by the play’s depth and intricacy in so few words. Churchill has a very stream-of-consciousness kind of dialogue, very unusual, and so it can be difficult to get used to reading the work – typical sentence structure, punctuation, and syntax all go out the window from page one. I’ll leave you with an excellent quote about identity from Bernard 1 (speaking of Bernard 2 to Salter) that showcases this unconventional sentence structure:

“Bernard 1: and you know what he’s like, not tidy, am I tidy you don’t know do you but you’d guess not wouldn’t you but you’d be wrong there because I’m meticulous.”

If you’re looking for something to read in an hour, but that will leave you thinking for days, I’d heartily recommend this play.

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: The Best of The Best from 2000

She's really not as tiny as this picture makes her look...
She’s really not as tiny as this picture makes her look…

This book, The Best of the Best American Science Writing is just chock-full of what we love on this blog (in case you missed it, that’s science and writing)!

This collection is the culmination of ten years of other collected essays. From 2000 to 2009, The Best of American Science Writing books were published yearly. Now, each editor of one of those books has been asked to select the two best essays from their year, resulting in this volume.

The Best of the Best of 2000 ended up being two medical essays – “When Doctors Make Mistakes” by Atul Gawande (who I’d already written some about here) and “The Biotech Death of Jesse Gelsinger” by Sheryl Gay StolbergI’ll do a brief review of each of these essays.

Gawande’s essay is broken into five sections that alternate between personal accounts of medical mistakes with near deadly consequences and statistical/historical accounting of errors in medicine. The essay highlights both the necessity for better processes so that doctors make fewer mistakes and the inevitability of mistakes in such a human field. The writing is clear and, as you would expect from something published in The New Yorker, well-researched and contextualized. Gawande’s goal is to persuade, to teach the average reader about the medical realities of surgery and hospital processes, and in this he succeeds.

Gawande’s personal memories where he brings us into the hospital room or the M. & M. with him, are vivid and fast-paced, the strength of the story (particularly the opening section when we are dropped right into the O.R.). I found the sections on history and stats, which were long and generally uninterrupted by any narrative, to be much slower, as they contained a lot of (albeit useful) dry information. However, because the piece is relatively short, even these drier sections were easy enough to get through.

Stolberg’s essay is about a young man who died unexpectedly during gene therapy research; she touches on some of what Gawande writes about when he says that medical errors often compound. Her story has few of the heart-racing moments of Gawande’s (though Gelsinger’s death is very poignant) but is more consistent in it’s pacing and in the way it blends the personal, historical, political and scientific on every page. Stolberg works from a personal lens, always writing about a person, whereas Gawande alternates between a personal and statistical point of view. This is not to say that Stolberg shies away from an accurate discussion science or research, however, because she does a great job presenting the science concisely and for a lay audience through the lens of the scientists.

Both essays speak to the ethics of medicine and medical research, though Stolberg doesn’t leave the reader with her definite opinion on the matter; her essay seeks to allow the reader to make their own decisions after she presents the story.

Overall, Stolberg’s essay is much easier to read if you like a good narrative; Gawande’s provides a nice ‘easy’ resolution for readers as his opinion is evident throughout the piece. Gawande’s piece is more thrilling overall, but does lack detail when you want it most. Stolberg’s is by far the saddest of the two pieces as she spends a lot of time detailing Gelsinger’s death and the reaction of those close to him. People who are interested in medicine will find both of these essays fascinating despite their different styles.

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: Square Rounds

Square Rounds 1
Nyx: I care not at all for your square shapes or rectangle shapes or round shapes… I care only for squirrel shapes.

I knew Tony Harrison more as a poet than a playwright which is why the play Square Rounds took me by surprise. Harrison takes on a lot with this play and I’ll admit that reading it, as opposed to seeing it performed, clearly does not do all the ideas of the play justice. There’s a lot of important stage direction in this play that can be tough to wade through and imagine.

Square Rounds deals with the ethics of science – when chemical discoveries can lead to fertilizers that could help feed all of humanity but also can lead to toxic bombs that destroy humanity physically and morally. Liebig, Haber, and Hudson and Hiram Maxim are the scientists in question, who work with nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen, one after the other.

The play is a bit difficult to get through because it almost always rhymes – if
you, like me, struggle with rhyming this is going to be a hard play to read. In addition, the play is pretty repetitive – you definitely will have a grasp of the ethical quandary our scientists face throughout the play. The play is also humorous but in a very dirty way, speaking often and glibly of farts and feces in the chemical conversation surrounding fertilizer.

Harrison seems to be less focused on the process of science or even the lives of scientists, opting to make the focal point of his play the morality of doing science when it can result in both good or evil. Harrison shows us that science is not ‘controllable’ – once the discovery is out of the head of the scientist, it can go anywhere (to the lamentations of the scientists who made the original discoveries). Harrison writes,

“CLARA HABER:…Nitrogen fixation giving ammonia NH3/ makes fertilizers, yes, but also TNT…The nitrogen you brought from way up high/ now blows the men you saved into the sky…

“FRITZ HABER: I pioneered fixation to fulfill/ a desperate human need and not to kill/ when I pioneered the process I had in mind/ only benefits and blessings for mankind.”

Square Rounds 2
Nyx: A fart joke, you say? What is that? *looks at book suspiciously*

Hudson and Hiram Maxim develop weapons from the chemical discoveries of Liebig and Haber – the fertilizer has now almost entirely left the conversation as scientists race to build better chemical weapons (a race that ends with the World Wars). Harrison paints a dark picture of how science gets out of hand and the chaos of the stage parallels the chaos of the chemical inventions.

I would recommend this play to those who enjoy imagining the scene on stage more than the words themselves. If you’re looking for ‘real science’ there is some but it’s so hidden in rhyme it can be a struggle to retain it. The play begins fairly light-hearted but doesn’t remain that way, so if you’re not looking for serious commentary (albeit veiled with fart jokes) on where science has been used for ill in our history, look elsewhere.

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: Soil

SOIL
Nyx: I will let you take pictures of me only when the book you want a photo of is grey and in shadows.

This week on ‘Bee’ Reviewed is Tim Cresswell’s Soil, a poetry collection packed with detritus and reference to place, be it urban or natural. Tim Cresswell is a poet and geographer from Britain and Soil is his debut collection of poetry. I typically try not to write negative reviews, but unfortunately this collection mostly wasn’t my speed (but who knows – it could be yours!).

Each of Cresswell’s poems very clearly evokes a feeling of place, be it the airport, the countertop in an urban home, a mine fallen into disrepair, or the forest floor. We are moved constantly as Cresswell chooses to relocate us; the result of this constant relocation is that most poems failed to engage me sufficiently in their singular world before I am forced to move on, even if I revisit similar locales several times throughout the book. I would have preferred some grouping – which this collection could have used on the whole, from the very beginning of the process (to the level of which poems made it into the book, not just their order of display). It was very difficult for me to draw enough connections between poems to find any overall thread to really unite the poems, making me feel like this was a ‘hodgepodge’ more than a ‘collection’.

Cresswell has incredibly sparse language; while sometimes this was evocative in a very concise way, many times I found it dissatisfying – particularly with poems like “Footnote”, “Feverfew”, and part 20 of the longest poem “Soil”. I might even refer to some of these poems as straight lists of related terms. The almost cheeky brevity and lack of unique language in some poems, especially when contrasted with the beautiful language and imagination in their neighbors, was off-putting and made the collection feel unbalanced.

Cresswell incorporates some biology and a lot of scientific information about soil. Similar to my comment about his concise language, many of this information was simply dropped like a paragraph from a textbook into the middle of the book. This was jarring, and felt somewhat lazy, especially compared to beautiful poems like “Rare Metallophytes,” which incorporates its science in such a subtle, poetic way that you hardly realize it’s there. Indeed, some parts of “Soil” were acknowledged to be directly pulled from a song; while I’ve nothing against incorporating the work of others on occasion, the frequency to which this and the information-dropping occurred left me annoyed that I hadn’t just picked up a textbook on the history and importance of soil instead.

Overall, I would recommend this book to people who love reading the poetry of place and don’t mind a ‘collection’ of poetry where each poem must be appreciated very independently of its fellows. If your mind can very quickly switch from one task to another you may find this series less jarring than I did, and thus more enjoyable. Those who really enjoy brevity in their poems, choice language that surprises and can make you laugh, poetry in and about urban places, and, of course, soil, will probably appreciate this book. Those who like to immerse themselves in a flowing narrative will be disappointed.

A special shout out to the poems “Rowan”, “Metaphor”, and “On entering the home of the bourgeois intelligentsia for the first time” all of which, with “Rare Metallophytes” made me glad I’d picked up the book despite its many shortcomings.

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: Bycatch

11301066684_f560e27df2_m
A seahorse, possibly not of the Pacific variety; photo from The British Library flickr. For a better illustration of a Pacific seahorse see the Terrain link

I first discovered the Bycatch project (I think that’s the right word) when I stumbled across two poems, “Pacific Seahorse” and “Shovelnose Guitarfish” in Terrain magazine where they were published. Eric Magrane and Maria Johnson are part of the 6&6 project which aims to bring scientists and artists together to portray and understand the Sonoran Desert (this is my favorite type of collaboration). Interestingly, it seems both Magrane and Johnson have science and art experience – Magrane is a geography PhD candidate and writer, Johnson is a marine conservationist and illustrator.

Magrane and Johnson traveled on a shrimp trawling boat as part of their collaboration, gathering bycatch data (all caught species that are not the target species). Several poems and illustrations came out of the collaboration, including “Shame-faced crab” (published in Zocalo Magazine and easiest to find in a blog post on the 6 and 6 website), the two published in Terrain, and “Sonora Scorpionfish” published in Coordinates Society

These poems are addressed to the bycatch and are accompanied with detailed illustrations that use dots to imply shading and patterns. I feel as though Johnson deliberately chose this style though I am not familiar with her body of work. The beauty of the whole being made up of the sum of these tiny individual pinpricks (rather than flamboyant colors, fancy materials, or computer generated additions) seems to speak to the necessity of each individual species, each fish, of bycatch to the beauty of the oceans, but I could be reaching. These species are often of special concern, lending the poems the narrative tone of a conservationist from the get-go of the title, and the voice of the poem takes that voice quite seriously.

Each poem gives special attention to the species it dotes on and seems to address a specific fish found on the trawling boat: how it  got on the trawling ship, and a little bit of scientific information about it carefully hidden (in the description of its habit or habitat). Each poem also seems to philosophize about the species, utilizing its relationship with humanity (going so far as to anthropomorphize certain species) to make a point about it’s existence as a part of the bycatch. Each poem, by highlighting this ‘unwanted’ or ‘forgettable’ part of the day’s catch on the boat, draws attention to the uniqueness of the species. Magrane makes us feel for the loss of life of each fish through beautiful, short stanzas punctuated by an abundance of white space that creates a sense of breathlessness, a feeling perhaps like a fish out of water.

By far my favorite poem is “Sonora Scorpionfish”, which contains the following lines:

“what are the chances/ from thousands of eggs

one will grow to display/ your red pectoral fin

what are the chances/ a human will be drawn

 to your sharp appearance/ pick you up

  by instinct or chance/ and the next day

their arm will go numb/ all numb,

is that slight/ consolation?”

I recommend you check those lines out in the original (link provided again here) because Magrane’s use of white space and stanza breaks heightens the suspense and, again, makes you feel breathless and light-heated as you grieve for the loss of the fish, which is really amazing (and sad, all at once). This poem really inspires me – without drowning its reader in guilt or even anger, Magrane manages to draw out intense feelings of compassion for marine life. Magrane may have the poem directly converse with the

Bycatch
Nyx’s ‘eyebrows’ are particularly on point for this one thanks to the sunlight (print copy of “Shame-faced crab”)

fish, but really he is opening the door for a philosophical conversation with his readers about the state of our marine life and the extreme loss of life in the environment that is the ‘bycatch’ of our industrial goals. Do we care? Is a numb arm consolation for the loss of the beautiful world we inhabit?

I would recommend these poems and illustrations to anyone who loves marine life or wants to experience the ongoing sad, deep, and beautiful conversation poets are having about conservation. I hope to see more of Magrane and Johnson’s collaboration in other journals soon.

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: Science on Stage

Science on Stage 4
Nyx: Oh look, a book. Maybe I’ll stop to read it.

I first came across this academic resource while working on one of my honors theses in undergrad – Science on Stage: An Examination of Scientific Rhetoric in Drama. This thesis really pushed me into reading (and writing) science-theater hybrids and was inspired, in part, by reading this book. And that’s what this book mostly does – it inspires one to consider science on stage as a cultural entity, even if the book can be considered a bit biased (more than I would generally recommend for an academic source). Then again, Shepherd-Barr is breaking some ground here by collecting a whole book of science-play criticism in one place and is very upfront about her definition of science, so perhaps its unfair to judge the book as anything other than a little lax on what is considered a culture-shaking play or actual science.

Shepherd-Barr covers a lot of science plays, from the modern and popular like Copenhagen by Michael Frayn to the old and unexpected like Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, with a lot of coverage in between. The book is a good jumping off point for thinking about how science functions in plays, what can be considered science, how scientists and the process of science are portrayed, and how these science plays impact our societal perceptions of science. The book is comprised of chapters that focus on plays of different themes – physics, medicine, biology, etc. – and Shepherd-Barr also tries to touch on trends, tradition, history, and the importance of theater to science in other chapters.

Science on Stage 7
Nyx: Perhaps I shall read it, after all. Hmmm.

The book is an interesting read, if dense, but only for someone who is well-read in the science-theater genre (you won’t get much out of reading about plays you haven’t read). That being said, the book is a great starting place to look for plays that would be of interest to you as the appendix in the back is really helpful. I would recommend anyone interested in theater, or even writing plays that deal with science, pick up this book and delve into the world of science-theater hybrids.

A cautionary note: Dr. Carl Djerassi has a great article about this book and how it exaggerates the prevalence of science plays on stage, in part by having a somewhat loose definition of what a science play is. I would recommend reading his article – it’s important to recognize that Shepherd-Barr is casting a wide net, with many of the plays she mentions not having been performed frequently, if ever, and other plays featuring characters like Newton or Einstein but with no real science behind them at all.

I personally fall somewhere between Shepherd-Barr and Djerassi’s views on science-plays, not as harsh as Djerassi about the necessity of ‘real science’ to be the ultimate focus of the play but also not willing to say the barest hint of a scientist’s name qualifies a play as a science play (sorry, Darwin in Malibu). To me, each play that has a primary or secondary focus of science informs us about how our culture views science, and is thus a science play even if it doesn’t quite get around to teaching us the inner workings of a transmembrane protein. And how our culture views science is important – science cannot stand alone. So pick up this book to get a start on understanding the complexity of science plays – and make your own decision about what a science play is to you!

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Bee-ing Difficult: the Nyx Edition

Here’s a sneak peak at the book chosen for Sunday’s ‘Bee’ Reviewed – getting the photos with Nyx is a real saga. I thought I’d show you what I mean (these were taken over the course of an hour as I tried to get my cat to sit, stand, lay down – anything if she could just be STILL and LOOK at me):

Science on Stage 1
Nyx: I know it really annoys you when I come really close, stand still, and look away from you. It’s really frustrating and I know you love that.
Science on Stage 3
Nyx: First, I’ll go over to the bookshelf and pretend to be interested so mom tries staging the book there. Then, I’ll turn my butt on her. PERFECT.
Science on Stage 2
Nyx: If I keep walking by, between the book and the camera, that’ll really annoy her for sure. Look, Mom, I’m not interested in the bookshelf anymore!
Science on Stage 4
Nyx: What’s this? If I pose right in front of the clean laundry mom has yet to fold, then the internet will know all about her inability to do common household chores efficiently! Hah! Perfect!
Science on Stage 5
Nyx: I know? Aren’t I cute? And perfectly posed in front of the laundry, too. You’re welcome, mom.

Get excited for a post on ‘Science on Stage’ coming soon (and more cute pictures of my cat, the star of this blog)!

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‘Bee’ Reviewed: Radial Symmetry

RadialSym
Nyx: If you won’t pet me, maybe this book will. *knocks book over*

Katherine Larson’s Radial Symmetry is less about science than I expected, given that it was written by a research scientist and field ecologist. As a book of poetry, Larson’s imagery, clarity, and vividness is to be admired – there are moments of great beauty scattered throughout the book.

Unfortunately, Radial Symmetry wasn’t really the book for me; if you’re a reader who likes a cohesive narrative (or poems that feel connected), this collection will feel disjointed. Larson writes of her own experiences with loss, love, travel, and more, couching them in biological imagery (sometimes) but leaving us without any discernible threads to meaningfully connect these reflections. Within each of these reflections, there are certainly precise and beautiful moments of writing and insight; it should be noted that Larson pays particularly excellent attention to sound within her work. But much of the collection felt vague and too personal for me to understand. There were also a lot of noncommittally ‘thoughtful’ statements where Larson seemed to be attempting philosophy but fell short of dedicating herself to it – for example a catch-all, like “Either everything’s sublime or nothing is”.

This book of poems would work well for those who appreciate scientific reference without scientific exploration and who like to go on a personal journey with the author through a life not your own. Larson does offer a unique perspective on her human experience, particularly through poems about loss like Grandfather Outside. Readers who appreciate poetry collections in which there is a lot of variety and diversity in thought, imagery, and style will also appreciate this versatile collection.

Some of my favorite lines follow – from Statuary:

“But somewhere between/ the crane and the worm/ between the days I pass through/ and the days that pass/ through me/ is the mind…”

from Study for Love’s Body:

“Saturn revolves/ repeatedly around some distance/ where space is nothing/ yet still something that separates.”

from Love at Thirty-Two Degrees:

“Science-

beyond pheromones, hormones, aesthetics of bone,/ every time I make love for love’s sake alone,

I betray you.”

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