Monday, May 27, 2024

A portrait of Nancy Padilla-Coreano of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory is prominent on the Poetry of Science website. (Photo: Joshua Sariñana)

A project called Poetry of Science is looking for Cambridge poets of color who will be paired with local scientists of color to create poetry based on their work, motivations and history. The unique concept, funded by the Cambridge Arts agency, plans to go even further in creating a public art installation about science and racial justice by including portraits of each scientist, according to a Thursday email.

The poems and portraits will be printed and installed at local businesses, as envisioned by Joshua Sariñana, a photographer (and former student of neuroscience at UCLA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a Harvard research fellow) twice awarded grants by the Council for the Arts at MIT for projects bridging art and science, according to an online biography.

The Poetry of Science was funded in February as part of Art For Racial Justice Grants, in which Cambridge Arts gave nine projects $5,000 each. Each poet selected for the project will get a $75 cash prize from the funding and be published in an issue of the Massachusetts-based Spry literary journal dedicated to it, the project’s FAQ says.

Spry’s cofounder, Linsey Jayne, is partnering with Sariñana on the project. The juror is Jean-Dany Joachim, Cambridge’s poet populist from 2009 to 2011 and now poet in residence at First Church in Cambridge.

“These public installations will give 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,” Sariñana and Jayne said.

For poets daunted by the idea, they have assurances: “You don’t need to have a background in science to participate in this project. We’re looking for strong poets who are interested in learning the stories of scientists and translating their work and motivations into poetry.”

The deadline for poets to submit original works is March 21; winners of the blind submission process will be announced in April, then paired with scientists for the creation of works for the project.

Apply at