The State of Things
11:40 am
Thu June 19, 2014

When Poetry And Science Collide

Reel to Reel book cover shows a galaxy
Reel to Reel book cover
Credit press.uchicago.edu

Poet Alan Shapiro says good science writing, like good poetry, asks questions and evokes a sense of wonder. His new book, "Reel to Reel" (University of Chicago Press/2014), takes inspiration from biology, astronomy and physics.

The poems move between the intimately familiar and the vastly unknowable, considering both the frustrations of political hypocrisy and the mysteries of human consciousness. 

Homeric Turns, Part 2

The gods laugh, that’s what they’re good at, laughing.They laugh at the crippled god, his shriveled legs,
His hobbling, and his mother, in a little
Shadow play of suffering at the sight of him,
Her crippled baby, laughs the loudest, and then
Laughs even louder when she hurls him out
Of heaven, and he falls, and while he falls
The laughter echoing around him is
The measure of the pure unbreathable cold
Height of the heaven he’s falling from and through,
Hilarity of light and air, delight’s
Effacement of everything but itself.
And the crippled baby tumbling to earth
In a charade of terror? Don’t let him
Deceive you—he’s a god—he’s laughing too.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Shapiro, professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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