School of English & Media Studies - Wellington Seminar Series

22 Aug 2013 4:15 PM
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Wellington campus
Block 5 Level D, 14

Poetry and science are sometimes said to be at odds because the first is by nature subjective and the second objective—the objectivity of its methods is often suggested as the basis for its higher claim to knowledge. Dr Bryan Walpert will briefly discuss how and why contemporary poets might resist the weight we give to the authority of science when it comes to knowledge. But primarily he will focus on how the very “objectivity” of scientific discourse—its tone, vocabulary, syntactical structure—provides fertile ground for poets and offers one means of avoiding some of the problems that plague contemporary writers of the lyric poem.

Dr Bryan Walpert is the author of two collections of poetry, Etymology and A History of Glass, the latter a finalist in the Stephen F. Austin State UP poetry competition in the United States; the short story collection Ephraim’s Eyes, named a Best Book of 2010 in NZ; and the monograph Resistance to Science in Contemporary American Poetry. A winner of the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Award for Creative Science Writing, he teaches creative writing in the School of English & Media Studies at Massey University.

Poets throughout the ages have incorporated science and technology into their poetry. Approaches range from expressing awe and wonderment to issuing a warning. Poets' attitudes to science and technology are often ambivalent. Helen Heath is studying a small group of British poets writing poems of science and technology from 1990 to 2010, looking at how an atmosphere of epistemological debate about the nature of scientific theory and objectivity influenced their work. Helen is using her research to inform and contextualise her own creative work - a collection of poetry exploring the intersect between people and technology. She will discuss the strategies of resistance to science in the work of two poets and how that impacts her own creative work.

Helen Heath’s debut collection of poetry Graft was published in 2012 by VUP to critical acclaim and has just won Best First Book of Poetry at the NZ Post Book Awards. Graft was also selected for the NZ Listener top books for 2012 and won a Victoria University Post Graduate Research Excellence Award. Helen is currently working towards her PhD in Creative Writing at the IIML.


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