The Festival- Darwin, Cambridge, 2009

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve been invited to be part of “The Festival,” more specifically the huge Darwin 2009 celebratory festival happening at Cambridge next summer. As I’ve mentioned, I’m trying to get involved with the “Darwin” events coming up in order to promote Darwin’s Microscope and also simply because it’s my cup of tea. I got in touch with Rebecca Stott, who kindly read my poetry and consulted her co-organizers, and I’ve been invited to be on a “poetry panel” with Ruth Padel. I’m a wee bit anxious! Padel is a famous poet and the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin himself. But I’m also honoured.

Cambridge, bikes

Cambridge, bikes

Funnily enough, at the moment I’ve honestly been reading Voodo Shop and Rembrandt Would Have Loved You, both books of poetry by Padel, and Darwin and the Barnacle, by Rebecca Stott. I got them out of the library when I first emailed Rebecca Stott- I swear I’ve read her book before, when I read so many Darwin-related books my senior year at uni- but I’d prefer to brush up. Padel’s poems are seriously good, though her fame probably vouches for that already!

Dr. John Holmes, my friend and a Lecturer at the University of Reading, had recommended I read some of Padel’s work. Little did I know that she’d be on the panel -and John himself will be the orchestrator! Things are coming together…

Interesting to mention, one of the older and perhaps wackier gentlemen I met at the ‘Poetry Unplugged’ evening said that my timing with the Darwin book was ‘opportunistic.’ As if that is a bad thing. I just think it is a combination of luck and smarts- luck that I wrote the manuscript before I realized the big Darwin events were happening (believe it or not) and luck that a publisher was smart enough to recognize the good timing and wants to publish me in time to take advantage of it.

Suffice to say, I would have written the poems anyway. It was one of the most intellectually fulfilling years of my life thus far, though I do hope to carry on in that vein!

‘In that vein’ being poetry, though from what I hear, Ruth Padel’s got a new poetry book coming out called Darwin: A Biography in Poems, and Dorothy Sutton’s got a new poetry book coming out called Darwin’s Scope! I do wonder how poor ol’ Charles would feel about all of this. Also, I hope I’m not grouped in the lump of ‘opportunistic’ writers taking advantage of the great man and using his name…but ah, so be it, if it be so. I know where I’m coming from.

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