Darwin’s Microscope

‘The ability to combine scientific with poetic forms of knowledge is precious and rare, and Kelley Swain possesses it in abundance.’

– Ann Fisher-Wirth

Darwin’s Microscope, Swain’s debut collection of poetry, was published in 2009 by Flambard Press. It sold out and had a small, second print run, and is currently out of print, as Flambard closed its doors in 2012, when the Independent on Sunday wrote that ‘over the 22 years of its existence, Flambard has grown into one of the finest small publishers in the UK’.

In the book tour for Darwin’s Microscope, Swain enjoyed sharing readings across the UK for the 2019 ‘Darwin 200’ celebrations, particularly at the University of Cambridge and the University of Aberdeen.

In October 2019, Valley Press will issue a 10th anniversary edition, including the original text and new poems. This will be launched at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, in conjunction with the debut of a song cycle with lyrics from the poems. The music for Endless Forms Most Beautiful is written by multi-award-winning composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad. The piece will be performed by Carola Darwin in partnership with the Oxford Lieder Festival. 

The collection has been hailed as ‘beautiful stuff. I was left with the absolute conviction that, with young Kelley entering the field, both natural science and poetry are in good hands.’ – Ann Drysdale, Envoi 154, October 2009.

‘One poem cannily includes an extract from Emily Dickinson, and there is an elegy for a father told – with an admirably Dickinsonian ‘slant’ – through the mating habits of a sea turtle. Bravura!’ – Anna Woodford, Mslexia, Issue 41.

‘With quiet authority, these poems situate our lives in the geological and biological unfolding of the ages. The ability to combine scientific with poetic forms of knowledge is precious and rare, and Kelley Swain possesses it in abundance. Darwin’s Microscope is a splendid debut volume from a very promising poet.’ – Ann Fisher-Wirth


The launch of Darwin’s Microscope at the Grant Museum of Zoology, London.