BioPoetics: I: Matured

First published in Mind Murals magazine, page 11, in the Spring of 2016. Listen to it read aloud here. This poem blossomed out of I: Seeding in which I wrote about the way a strong wind can affect the shape of a growing sapling. Shortly after writing this poem, I learned that sugar maple trees are primarily wind-pollinated, not pollinated by bees as I had originally been led to believe in my previous research (this discovery is relatively new; Cornell’s website uses materials from 1996 which indicate bees pollinate sugar maple flowers but more recent studies show it’s actually primarily the wind). Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: Lab Girl

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren was published earlier this year in April, to the immense delight of the world. I cannot take credit for ‘discovering’ this book; my undergraduate research adviser, a truly phenomenal scientific mentor, gave me a copy with a very heartfelt inscription for graduation. It was a touching gift in the thoughtfulness – this professor had attended my senior reading for my Creative Writing major and listened patiently to my series of poems on Sugar Maple trees. After attending, she knew this book was perfect. I would argue, however, that Lab Girl is not just perfect for Read more…

Mis-trusting Science

The New Yorker recently published a commencement address given by Atul Gawande here, which speaks to the larger impact of scientific thinking on our culture. It’s a really excellent speech and I recommend reading it in full. Science is a collective endeavor – beyond the scientists who are actually doing the research, the rest of us in the lay community have a responsibility to science as well. Seeking out correct information, employing the scientific mindset, seeking to think up educated questions about everything, etc. is critical to healthy academic, economic, social, and political environments. We’ve seen how far a healthy, Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: An Experiment with an Air Pump

An Experiment with an Air Pump is a play written in 2000 by British playwright Shelagh Stephenson, inspired by the painting ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, a 1768 oil-on-canvas by Joseph Wright of Derby (picture below). Stephenson writes what is, so far, my favorite science play. Grappling with two times frames, one in 1799 and one in 1999, she uses a singular house to draw incredible parallels between the morals, actions, and goals of the two groups of people that lived there. Stephenson manages to craft incredible concise, impactful dialogue as she works with twice the time and Read more…

Works in Progress

This month, I’ve been working on several new poems for my Sugar Maple cycle. I was inspired to write again after my father and I took a trip around New York and happened to visit the memorial park where my grandmother, grandfather, great-grandmother, and great-grandfather all have their ashes buried. It was my first time visiting after my grandparents died a few years ago. The trip included tears. As we approached the plaques set into the ground, my father remarked how it was hard to find the right nameplates because they’re all flat and slowly are covered by grass and Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: The Physicists

I first reviewed this play for National Book Review Month, an awesome brainchild of SUNY Geneseo, and have expanded upon that review here. The edition of The Physicists that I read was translated by James Kirkup. Friedrich Durrenmatt’s The Physicists is a delightful and sometimes silly play filled with intrigue, science, and murder, all leading up to an incredible plot twist that will leave your heart hammering and head swimming from the page-turning, gut-wrenching dialogue. Durrenmatt, a Swiss author, was heavily influence by the events of WWII when writing the play in 1961 and, in the play’s more serious moments towards the end, the Read more…

Biopoetics: I: Seedling

First published in Mind Murals, page 9, in the Spring of 2016. Listen to it read aloud here. Biopoetics will be a series of posts in which I explain the science that went into my biology-tinged poetry, in 400 words or less, no matter how heavy or light the poem is on science. I: Seedling arose from looking at a picture of a tree, seriously bent by the force of the wind. When a seed falls off a sugar maple tree it is blown around by the wind and will often land in ‘leaf litter’ – accumulated leaves on the Read more…

John Oliver on Science

Just in time for my blog to start up, one of my favorite comedians, John Oliver, has decided to do a segment about science as presented to us in the media. I think the segment really speaks for itself, but I highlighted some key points below in case you’re interested – and then I offer my take. 1:32 “There are now so many studies being thrown around that they can seem to contradict one another.” And in science, sometimes studies do contradict one another! Depending on the environmental conditions, experimenter bias, technology that exists at the time, events like speciation Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: Blind Huber

Every week a science book, play, article, etc. will ‘bee’ reviewed (I admit, as an entomologist, that I may use a few too many insect puns). This week’s selection is appropriately themed for the first ‘Bee Reviewed’ post ever – a book of poetry entitled Blind Huber by Nick Flynn. I originally reviewed this book as part of NaRMo – National Reviewing Month, which occurs in February and is run by my undergraduate institution. Blind Huber is a poetic masterpiece that brings to life the distinct harmony of Huber, a blind, elderly French beekeeper from a different century, and swarms of Read more…

Geek and Sundry – Hard Science Book Contest

For those of you who don’t know, Geek and Sundry is a commercial YouTube channel and multimedia production company – on their channel, they nerd out over comics, LARPs, RPGs, weaponry in fantasy games, romance novels, comedy, and much, much more. Felicia Day (you probably know her from her role in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog) and Wil Wheaton (you probably know him from Star Trek: The Next Generation) are prominent players so you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already. As an amazing science-writing collaboration, Inkshares and Geek and Sundry have teamed up to do a publishing contest Read more…