restricted access Poetry and Science
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Poetry and Science
No description available
Click for larger view
View full resolution

Dear National Science Foundation, You were everything I ever wanted when I was finishing my PhD, and I have no idea why I didn't pursue you further. I liked the way you asked me how I liked my research. You even asked about the percent of the checks for my apparatus versus travel and what went to my father University—the modern dowry—still sexy in a vintage Lingerie sort of way, even if it was just about buying off my ideas, preventing me from becoming a private sector girl. I know you still have paperwork for me, and it helps to know that I could always come back—that you'd always come back for another look at my details, especially if Congress finally does that comprehensive audit they are always talking about.

What does science offer art? What does art offer science? How are these two knowledge categories constructed and how have they managed to create powerful holds on our understanding? My research as a Science and Technology Studies scholar tries to address these questions. At Djerassi, I spent time discussing these issues and interviewing the other residents. What interested me most was that every resident already had a background that brought together ideas from art and science or design and engineering. When institutions like ISAST and Djerassi plan to bring artists and scientists together, it is worth considering whether this is often already a third space for individuals whose professional lines are not so clearly drawn.

In addition to my scholarly research, I am a curator and a poet. My current project, American Letters, is a collection of lyric epistles inquiring about the relationship between the personal and the bureaucratic, between our ideals, hopes, loves and worries about America and the consequences of dealing with its institutions. During the residency, I particularly focused on those institutions with a science connection, like "Dear NSF," "Dear USDA," "Dear Department of Energy," "Dear FAA," "Dear BP," and "Dear 3M."

Djerassi's Open House gave me occasion to bring my interest in science and poetry together in a project that explores our relationships to science. The participants entered a strange post office where they were invited to write a postcard to science. People wrote silly, heartfelt and unusual postcards to NASA, Tesla, T-rexes, USDA APHIS, cancer, Albert Einstein and the moon.

This is a play on the strictly bounded communication tropes present in current science education, which encourages us to think of science as an oracle rather than as a public institution that we can influence. Too often, people, typically assumed to be students, are encouraged to ask a scientist a question within defined parameters of what "science" is able to answer. In this post office project, "science" was put in the position of receiver or listener, suggesting that science communication should be a conversation. [End Page 243]

Hannah Star Rogers