Sunday, April 12, 2009


The Dialogues with Darwin Poetry Project presents an excellent opportunity for those of you who are interested in documentary poetry. Also, if you're curious about relationships between poetry and music, check out the project.

Speaking of Darwin and poetry, Charles Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was a wonderful poet. His writings explored poetry and other rhetorical modes we don't necessarily think of when we think about scientific writing (for example, dialogues). See for example The Temple of Nature and The Botanic Garden. A lot of Erasmus Darwin's writings have only recently come back into print. I suspect his work will gain more popularity as ecocriticism, ecopoetics, and ecoliterature in general gain wider audiences.

Here are details for the Dialogue with Darwin Poetry Project:

DIALOGUES WITH DARWIN POETRY PROJECT Network for New Music, in collaboration with the American Philosophical Society (APS) Museum is pleased to announce the Dialogues with Darwin Poetry Project. Dialogues with Darwin, the new exhibition at the APS Museum opening on April 17, 2009 draws from the Society’s own rich Charles Darwin archive—the largest outside of Cambridge, England—to display Darwin’s own letters, as well as rare first editions, sumptuous illustrated books, and manuscripts that follow the evolution of Darwin’s big idea—evolution through natural selection. As the first major statement on evolution and how it works, On the Origin of Species was the beginning of modern biology. In New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik’s newest book Angels and Ages, he argues that it was also Darwin’s modern way of writing and thinking (scientific and liberal in the broadest sense) that was crucial to promoting his new idea. Network for New Music invites poets to begin their own dialogue with Darwin. If you would like to participate: See the Darwin exhibition, write a poem in response to it and submit it to Network for New Music (guidelines for submission are below). A group of 12-15 young composers drawn from six area universities (the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, University of the Arts, the Curtis Institute, West Chester University and the University of Delaware) will choose poems from among those submitted, and will set them to music; some of those works will then be performed on a pair of Network for New Music concerts at the Society’s Benjamin Franklin Hall on February 19 and 21, 2010. Are you a poet? Want to find out more about this project? Then join us at the American Philosophical Society Museum (104 S. Fifth Street) on April 15 at 7:30 PM for a sneak preview of the Dialogues With Darwin exhibition. Network for New Music's Artistic Director Linda Reichert will give an overview of the project and the timeline. Sue Ann Prince, Museum Director and Curator, will give a brief introduction to the ideas behind the exhibition. We'll also take some time to hear from eminent Philadelphia composer Maurice Wright, who has been commissioned to write a chamber work for this project (the work will also be premiered at the Dialogues with Darwin concerts). Wright will discuss the challenges a musician faces when working with text, and give the poets in attendance some insight into poetry that has a musical life. More detailed Project Guidelines for poets are available on the Network for New Music website below. R.S.V.P. for the April 15th preview. For more information: or

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