Keith Jarrett & Jess Wade: This Is Science

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The Experimental Words London show is nearly here! Next Monday our intrepid poets and scientists will debut brand new micro-performances at Springer Nature, exploring research through spoken word. The two previous shows in Manchester and Canterbury have been incredible, and London is in fact now sold out - though you can still book a place on the reserve list! In the meantime, here's poet Keith Jarrett's take on This Is Science, which he wrote when paired with Dr. Jess Wade

This Is Science

I

Science is the process of waking up each day in order to formulate questions
Science is
                                          finding patterns
                                                                        in molecules that don’t behave
                                                                        in scientists that don’t behave
                                                                        in academics in competition for floor
space in rooms where floppy disk machines dominate
      waiting for their owners to update/retire/decease
      writing a thesis that no one will read   in language that
needs deciphering, even for you

(& your position is only as secure as your last grant
 & funding is more fickle than the findings from your experiments)  

Poetry is the process of writing a book that no one will read      in language that
         is often entirely inaccessible       in illegible hieroglyphs

                                        putting a microscope to the interactions between words
                                        finding patterns
                                        waking up each day in order to formulate questions and
coming up short

(& your position is untenable, your angst contained within
email drafts about your last unpaid invoice, and your last grant application)

II

The structure of science is built around questions
                                            building reputations
                                            from presentations
                                            papers & talks
                                                                    (all the untaught technicalities thought
-up by a blind panel of         peer-reviewers,
                                              gate-keepers,
                                              tight-celled
                                              white coat

                                              white beard                                              
                                              white men1

                                              microscope-
                                              gazing teams
                                              congregating behind carded-off floors /
                                              behind papered-over glass-panel doors

where collaborations are easier to make across continents than across landings)2

The structure of science is random particularities questioned
                                               in series/ hypotheses/ squeezed
into our own understanding:

sometimes we make molecules do what we want them to do    

sometimes we double-glove
to protect ourselves
                                 from the microbes
                                 (as we protect the microbes from us)

III

sometimes the poet metaphors to protect his or herself
or to protect the reader/listener from the contaminated poet

sometimes the third person is employed
or an extraneous bird or Greek god or dictionary definition

or the way light plays through a window, waves through a branch
to broach/breach emotions, the spectres that weigh heavy on a page

sometimes the poet binds her/himself to a form to interrogate
the intricate and troubled coupling of imagination with reality

this is the truth of spectroscopy      of making visible the light
of focusing the gaze  a prism through which to view matter.     


1Gender imbalances, at least, within STEM are, at last, being ad-/re-dressed  
2this is also, fundamentally, about funding
and precarious positions fought ferociously for…