Sharing poetry with scientists and the public

Seven-foot-tall banners of various poems.
Seven-foot-tall banners of various poems.

I had a fantastic time bringing poetry to scientists and the public during today’s Science March in Washington, D.C.

Leading a poetry teach-in for those who write and those who never knew poetry could be science-themed was so fulfilling. And even though it was pouring rain, the weather brought more people into our tent, who ultimately took up a pen and paper to try erasure, writing about insects, or personifying nature, storms, or planets. I’d estimate about 200 people came through the Poets for Science tent during our poetry teach-ins.

Many people stopped by our tent to learn how to write science-themed poetry.
Many people stopped by our tent to learn how to write science-themed poetry.

I want to thank Jane Hirshfield for coming up with this incredible idea, Split This Rock and Sarah Browning for recommending me as one of the workshop leaders, the Wick Poetry Center for their great staff and banners, and all the local poets who led workshops and made this such an incredible event! This was a great space where we made connections between science and poetry — because, truly, the two go hand-in-hand. They are intertwined.

Science is full of images, minute details, precision. And so is poetry. They are both vivid, raw representations of our natural world.

Jane Hirshfield was the mastermind behind Poets For Science. Honored to have met and worked with her.
Jane Hirshfield was the mastermind behind Poets For Science. Honored to have met and worked with her.

For those who couldn’t make it to the Science March or our tent, here are the workshops and poetry banners. Keep writing.

Poets for Science

Posters from Poets for Science of poems paired with images. Photo courtesy of pw.org.
Posters from Poets for Science. Photo courtesy of pw.org.

On Saturday, I’m humbled to be a part of the March for Science in Washington, D.C. Most likely I won’t be marching, due to chronic pain, but I will be participating in another, meaningful way. Through serendipitous chance, I was invited to be a part of the poetry teach-ins that are happening during the day. The incredible poet Jane Hirshfield is the mastermind behind the idea — and I am so grateful to be able to work with her and bring her dream to life. Make sure to read Jane’s poem “On the Fifth Day,” which she will be reading at the rally during the March.

Several local poets and staff from Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center will be leading poetry workshops focusing on insects, personifying storms, climate change, data, and more. The workshops will be from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Mall in the Poets for Science tent. Learn more about the pop-up workshops.

My workshop is Writing the Storm. I’m bringing several poems exploring weather, planets, natural disasters, and how they affect our lives. We’ll use phrases from these poems and from Patricia Smith’s poetry personifying Hurricane Katrina as a jumping off point. All are welcome, including parents and children, and no experience is required.

This opportunity is so dear to my heart because most of my poetry, and some of my prose, focuses on science in some way. I’m obsessed with space. I write about my body and medical issues. I explore the potential future in science/speculative fiction. Science and creative writing go hand in hand. Writers draw from the natural world and the rich images in science.

Jane’s work in forming Poets for Science and our teach-ins were featured in an article on Poets&Writers. Read it to learn more about the seven-foot posters of poetry that will be present at the March, as well as how this came to be. The workshops and poems are also traveling the globe and may be translated and held in satellite marches throughout the world, including the March for Science in Marseilles, France!

Join the conversation throughout the day and share your science-related poems with the hashtag #poetsforscience! Excited to see you there!

Support science on #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday
Help keep science a priority in our society. Support the Society for Science & the Public on #GivingTuesday.
 
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A woman’s place is — in the lab

Tabia Santos
Photo from Science News for Students.

Science News for Students, the sister publication to Science News, recently highlighted the importance of women in STEM in a feature that shows the amazing females involved in the front lines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The number of women in science or engineering has increased in recent years, but not nearly enough. Women and men both study science in high school, but men still outnumber women in research jobs.

Science News for Students covers scientific topics written in language that teens can understand.

Read all about amazing women in various scientific fields, including:

‘Aging with the solar system’ in Black Heart Magazine

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 6.46.39 PM

Another one of my space poems was published this spring! This year has been amazing for my poems — they’re sprouting up everywhere!

Aging with the solar system” was published in Black Heart Magazine on April 17. It explores the laws of physics, time, and relativity. The age you are now on Earth is not the age you’d be on other planets.

Graph from spaceplace.nasa.gov.
The length of one day on each planet in the solar system. Graph from spaceplace.nasa.gov.

The planets in the solar system have orbits around the sun that take different times to complete. It takes Pluto a lot longer to go around the sun than it does Mercury.

So if you lived on Mercury, you’d be a lot older because of its shorter orbit around the sun in our year versus being younger on Pluto because of how long the dwarf planet takes to get around the sun.

It’s wacky to think about, for sure. That’s what got me going in this poem. That time and years aren’t the same on each planet.

You can find out your age on other planets here.

Sharing the love of science 🔬

At Society for Science & the Public, I’ve been telling stories every day. With an alumni base of about 50,000 people, there’s a diverse group of ages, races, genders, geographical regions, occupations, science interests, and more to represent and explore.

Every day I’m sent emails with updates about an award or honor an alumna/alum has won, or how an alum is impressed with the caliber of current science research at our competitions, or where in the world one of the Society’s alumni is off to next. Sometimes it’s Palau, or Tahiti, or the Galapagos Islands, or Antarctica.

I’m so impressed and inspired by the scientific research and inventions Society’s alumni produce. It makes it easy to promote their incredible work, like reinventing high-tech canes for the visually impaired, co-founding Advanced LIGO which recently detected gravitational waves, designing low-cost electric cars, creating inexpensive disease-testing tools, exploring ways to clear dust off the Martian rovers, writing books, or starting organizations to promote girls and diversity in STEM.

It’s exciting to watch Society alumni move from Broadcom MASTERS, or Intel ISEF, or the Intel Science Talent Search to university, or interning at NASA, or founding a company. These young scientists never rest. Which should be some good news for our generation.

If you’re one of Society’s alumni, or know of any alumni of the Broadcom MASTERS, Intel ISEF, or Westinghouse/Intel Science Talent Search competitions, please contact me at mchertock@societyforscience.org. I’d love to talk to you and share your story!

And if you’re in D.C. this weekend, come by the National Geographic Society on Sunday, March 13, from 1-4 p.m. for the Intel STS 2016 public exhibition of projects. Meet the 2016 Intel STS finalists and view their projects. The event is free and open to the public. See you there!