NewScientist CultureLab contribution

On Friday I was asked by NewScientist CultureLab editor Kat Austen to write a review of the Genomic Forum’s recent poetry competition. Kat and I met at one of the Days of Roses poetry reading in Greenwich, and she drew a very cool, impromptu piece of art inspired by each poet.

Kat said I came immediately to mind when the science and poetry topic arose: it was an extra plus that, though I hadn’t submitted anything to the competition (a relief, or I wouldn’t have, fairly, been able to write about it,) I knew about the competition through my links with the Genomics Forum.

So, dear readers: my first piece for NewScientist!

Happy New Year (from the Library)

Photo courtesy of

Hello lovely writers, readers, and partners in crime. Happy 2011! I’ve been in the States for quite a while and am at present diving back into London and all the wonders it has to offer. Research is on my mind & I am especially loving the libraries here.


Last week I spent the morning in the beautiful Linnean Society Library, and was the only one in there. It was pure bliss (though a little chilly). I also returned to one of my favourite libraries in London, the Wellcome Library, (where the water bubblers attack the unsuspecting) and tomorrow I plan to go to the Poetry Library.
Each of these libraries holds books & materials relevant to projects I’m working on. My writing ‘projects’ are potential books that are a bit too early for me to feel comfortable calling books – and they also sometimes involve plans for genre-flexing, so ‘book’ might be too simple a name.
For example, I’m working on a project which takes me to the Wellcome Library to read about anatomical wax models, dissection, various specific ways for one to die, art, obsession, gluttony, and sex. (Did I mention this is enormous fun?) This potentially could be a verse novel – (I’m writing it with a full narrative arc) – and/or a poetry play (I’m writing it for four voices).
Another project I’m working on, which brings me to the Linnean Society library, and, soon, the Natural History Museum libraries, is on the admission of the first Female Fellows into the Linnean Society, which happened on 19 January 1905 (my birthday is on 19 January! I just think that’s cool).
So my writers, go forth and make the most of these London Libraries. I’ve hardly scratched the surface. I hardly need to say that the British Library is actually heaven. And all of these are, of course, free, and most welcoming if you are polite and professional – and especially if you’re working on a book…