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Poetry Meets Science at BBF’s Lit Crawl 2021

BBF is excited to host the Poetry of Science as part of this year’s all-outdoors Lit Crawl in Central Square, Cambridge! 

The Poetry of Science is a project aimed at addressing the lack of representation for People of Color (POC) in both poetry and the sciences. Their session at Lit Crawl Boston 2021, “Poetry+Science: New Realities,” will be their first demonstration of the similarities between the sciences and humanities. Joshua Sariñana, their director, was able to answer a few questions about Poetry of Science ahead of June 10. 


BBF: Could you tell us a little about your presenters for Poetry of Science? 

Joshua: Our seven presenters, selected by Jean-Dany Joachim, Cambridge Poet Populist from 2009 to 2011, are local poets of color, each of whom has a connection to the City of Cambridge. We have a great selection that includes emerging talent and notable poets, each with their own style and voice. We believe our selected poets will find a deep running connection among the stories of their scientist collaborators. 

[For the Poetry of Science project], poets will be meeting with scientists from fields that include quantum mechanics, social robotics, and radiology at the intersection of experimental design and neuroaesthetics; learning their motivations, research, and stories; and crafting original poetry about them. At the Lit Crawl, each will be presenting one poem that has, so far, come forth from this work.


BBF: What do you hope attendees and viewers at Lit Crawl Boston 2021 will take away from your “Poetry+Science: New Realities” session? 

Joshua: In the true spirit of poetry, we are hoping to convey a great deal through a few strategically placed, powerful words. For one, and central to this project, is representation. Our mission as a project is to reveal and give voice to representation of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, and People of Color’s experiences in the fields of poetry, the sciences, and the arts. We also aim to create new and positive links between People of Color, the arts, and the sciences to counter the negative associations handed down by systemic racism. The larger goal is to create novel realities, an aesthetic to resist systems of oppression. This is our first public display of those efforts.

Our hope is that the community and various audiences will feel the underlying current that bridges poetry and the sciences. Both are fields of passion centered around intimate details and original viewpoints, and, we believe, understand the awe in the work of each other. Both observers, they teach us about the world and ourselves. We are excited for attendees to access a new language of that synthesis.


BBF: How does Poetry of Science plan to change the racial disparities associated in the arts and sciences?

Joshua: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and People of Color lack representation in many settings as compared to the percentage of the population they represent. There is a profound lack of diversity in publishing, which means we miss out on the voices of these poets and creative writers. Photography and mainstream media are bereft of, or misrepresent, POCs. And the racial/ethnic disparities we see across the sciences—so near to the heart of Cambridge itself—are stark. 

Our project gives contributing poets the opportunity to publish new work, and offer the scientists an avenue to understand their work in a new language, bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities—an analogous gesture in linking and strengthening distinct communities of color.


BBF: Why has Poetry of Science decided to participate in Lit Crawl Boston 2021?

Joshua: Lit Crawl Boston is a celebration of literature, of culture, of voice. Sadly, the voices of poets and writers of color are often silenced when they should be heard and celebrated. To that end, we believe that participating in this effort helps rightly center the beautiful and talented voices of our local poets of color, and that by sharing their words with more members of the literary community, we can make a larger impact and progress toward our ultimate goals.


Come and see Poetry of Science’s unique project using the best of the humanities and the sciences. You can find more information on Poetry of Science, and our other presenters. Be sure to keep up to date as we approach Lit Crawl Boston 2021!


This interview was conducted by Edward Ganthier, an intern with the Boston Book Festival in 2021 and an Emerson College graduate student.

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