Science, Poetry Merge in Book

By Broz, Joan | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 28, 2007 | Go to article overview

Science, Poetry Merge in Book


Broz, Joan, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Joan Broz Daily Herald Correspondent

We all earn our thoughts by saving them,

by placing their coppery existences

on the rail that stretches to strange horizons.

Anna Leahy embraces poetry.

From her first haiku read on a local radio station when she was in fourth grade to teaching poetry and creative writing as an assistant professor of English at North Central College, Leahy thinks in words.

"Poetry offers you the way to think about the way you understand the world and to work through an idea or issue without the conventions that another means might have," she said. "It fascinates me that poetry also tries to get at things we can't quite see or get a handle on."

Leahy interweaves poetry with science in her first full-length book of poems, "Constituents of Matter," published last month. Each section's title is named after scientific particles. Her poems in this collection explore ways in which theories and terminology understand the physical world.

"I always appreciate looking at the world in a scientific way," Leahy said. "Scientists, writers and artists can get different, but not exclusive meanings, from the ways we look at the same image of the world."

Poetry in Leahy's hands reflects science by using metaphors and models to characterize what is unseen. She sees both branches of learning as similar in interpreting our understanding of the world. Both disciplines need to think outside the box, she said.

With a quick smile and easy laugh, the college professor casually deflates any pretentious demeanor poetry might evoke. Bringing her generation a new voice, Leahy's poems offer insights to her values, family and times. She gazes across a brimming mound of ideas to polish her imagery.

"Many poets feel an obligation to provide witness for their moment in time that their voice is heard and not lost," Leahy said. "I had a previous manuscript, but what I had was a bunch of poems until I reworked it into a coherent thread in a narrative foundation."

Leahy's poems extend from reminiscing about primary writing tablets with a dashed centerline to remembering the spaceship Challenger explosion as a life-defining moment in history.

The collection ranges from her fond recollection of standing still long enough for her father to set a camera's timer and rush into a family photograph and the sense of profound loss watching illness take his life when she was 16.

The reflective poetry anthology won the distinguished Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize in 2006 from approximately 600 submissions. Along with the honor, Kent State University Press published the 75- page winning manuscript.

"Each year, the Wick Poetry Center chooses a different poet of national reputation to choose the final winning manuscript," said the center's program and outreach director David Hassler from Kent State University. …

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