When we sent out our Call for Submissions for Physics, we did it because of our unbounded fascination for the field. As writers who are intrigued and excited by the world of physics, at first glance so different from the world of poetry, we wanted to explore this area more. And what better way to explore physics than with a community of fellow writers?

Many poets in this issue have been writing in response to science and physics not as remote concepts, but as subjects they’re involved with on a daily basis. As a veterinary surgeon, the poet Ilse Pedler often employs scientific vocabulary in her poems. An X-ray imaging scientist, Ian Buchanan enjoys experimenting with physics concepts. And while Kinneson Lalor and Chris Athorne are both mathematicians as well as writers, Lucy Calder and Pippa Goldschmidt have contributed their knowledge in astrophysics and astronomy respectively. Other scientists featured in this issue include Mike Greenhough, John Martin, Chris Athorne and Amy Wolstenholme.

Other contributors to this issue, while not coming from the world of physics, do what poets know best: wrestle with the concept of time in the compact space of a poem. After all, as a temporal art that is often concise enough to be held on a single page and form its own unique visual structure, poetry is a perfect vehicle for the concepts of time and space. The poem happens in time, as we read it; it keeps changing as we go along with it, and yet, at any time during the process of reading, we can take a glimpse of its entirety. Moreover, in evoking memories, visual images and sounds, and in changing directions with each new reading, the poem may offer us a glimpse to the fact that time is, in fact, not linear – that not only is the past part of the present, but it keeps changing with each reference to it.

Having chosen the field of physics, we were particularly interested to hear from women: their approaches to science in their own writing process and the different ways the world of physics has influenced their work. Tania Hershman’s essay details how her first degree in Physics has influenced her writing and her approach to fiction and poetry, leading to a PhD in poetry inspired by particle physics. Lucy Sheerman begins her essay with a visual description of the way sound moves. As a writer, she finds it fascinating that even sound needs a visual representation in order to be understood. Sheerman continues to explore sound and the ways it moves in different spaces in her multidisciplinary project revolving around space, sacred spaces, and communication. Maryam Hessavi experiments with the concepts of distance, sound and structure while creating two very different pieces as part of her exciting response to a poem by Anthony Vahni Capildeo.

We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed delving into the poems!

Susannah Hart and Stav Poleg, Editors, Magma 84


From Magma 84, Physics



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