Friday, January 14, 2011

Science Poems for January 2011: 14

Last April I posted a science sonnet a day in celebration of National Poetry Month (index with links here). This January I am posting a science poem a day, written in various traditional forms, in honor of Science Online 2011.

The "fifth annual international meeting on Science and the Web" is currently underway and runs through Jan. 16, 2011. Click on the logo below to access their daily digest on

As with the sonnets, my January poems take their cues from science-based articles. I also have two works in a special science poem section (vol. 33 #5/6) of Star*Line, journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can read my "Ciliate Sestina" here.

Also, two sonnets from last April's collection, "In Development" and "Manipulations," have made it into Open Laboratory 2010 Click on the badge below for links to the 50 essays, 6 poems, and 1 cartoon in the collection.

Today's poem, inspired by Science Online's books-and-beer happy hour, takes its cue from "How to hear above the cocktail party din" (Alexandra Witze, Science News, Jan. 3, 2011). Click on the article link to learn more about the research. To learn more about the traditional poetic structure used, click on the form name below the title.

How's That Again?
(Form: Triolet sequence)

To separate a voice from noise and whether one could hear a word
Embedded in environments whose background proves distracting,
McDermott and his research team created sounds unheard.
To separate a voice from noise and whether one could hear a word,
They sequenced different frequencies of when a sound occurred,
Then had their subjects pick it out. The task was quite exacting
To separate a voice from noise. It took repeats to hear a "word"
Embedded in environments whose background proved distracting.

The more a sound repeats itself, the better you remember it.
For cocktail party denizens, it helps with conversation.
A celebrant must take the noise and manage to dismember it.
The more a sound repeats itself, the better you remember it.
Like jungles filled with monkey calls, to say your piece, engender it,
Like self-same chirps that play a role in bird elucidation.
The more a sound repeats itself, the better you remember it,
The better cocktail partiers can hold a conversation.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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