Madhur Anand‘s debut collection of poems is A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (McClelland & Stewart/ Random House Canada, 2015), a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. According to Publisher’s Weekly: “Anand’s attention to and ability to evoke explicit, exponential beauty in scientific and natural form are simply stunning.” Recent work appears in The Walrus.
Ahead of her Sept. 14 reading, Madhur challenged your friendly neighbourhood BWS blogger to list 10 scientific facts or laws he learned reading her poetry collection. I always got C’s and D’s in science… but with a little help from Wikipedia I might just pull it off!
Ten Science-y Things I Learned from Reading Madhur Anand’s Poems
- Paper birch trees are pioneer species after a fire (“Betula papyrifera“).
- A breed of cow called the Brangus exists: it’s three-eighths Brahman and five-eighths Angus, and is bred for high disease resistance and humidity tolerance as well as strong maternal instincts (“Hill Country, Old Mercedes, and Parturition”).
- The chipping sparrow’s haplotype depth is more akin to a red-winged blackbird’s than to a song sparrow’s (“The Chipping and the Tree”).
- A haplotype is a group of genes within an organism that was inherited together from a single parent (ibid.).
- Peahens lay infertile, decoy eggs to mislead their predators as to the location of their nests (“Grounds for Sculpture”).
- The popular North American maraschino cherry is made with a sweet cherry, the Royal Ann, but it gets it name from a Croatian sour cherry named Marasca–from the Italian “amarasca”, derived from “amaro”, meaning “bitter”–that was bleached with sulphur dioxide, dyed candy red and soaked in sugar before being eaten (“If I Can Make It There”).
- RuBisCO–ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase, to its friends–is probably the most abundant enzyme on Earth, and is involved in the first major step of carbon fixation, the process in which carbon dioxide is converted to glucose in plant photosynthesis (“RuBisCO”).
- Ants are attracted to peonies because of the sweet nectar peonies release, and protect the plants from herbivores (“The Sweet Smell”).
- Folk tales sometimes spread falsehoods about nature.
- “[…] with time
small deviations accumulate from sensitive
dependence on initial conditions. Then chaos” (“Moving On”).
Madhur Anand visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Jeremy Hanson-Finger, Shane Joseph, Phoebe Wang and a special guest talk, “Best Practices for Grant Writing”, by Toronto Arts Council Interim Dance & Literary Officer Natasha Powell.