Welcome back to the 255! We wish our students our best of luck as we now embark on the final stretch of the semester! In celebration of National Poetry Month, the 255 is bring you a special segment highlighting our favorite poets and writings. We hope that throughout this month you all take time to reflect on your favorite styles of poetry from classical to contemporary, in both written and oral traditions. For more information on how to celebrate National Poetry Month check out the source below brought to you by the Academy of American Poets. They have some awesome year-round project going on.

Academy of American Poets

Professor Jennifer Brown’s Featured Poem:

“Good Bones”

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

– Maggie Smith

Professor Jerry William’s Featured Poem:

“St Judas”

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

– James Wright

HUMSOC Admin Alex Dill’s Featured Poem:

“An Old Cracked Tune”

My name is Solomon Levi,
the desert is my home,
my mother’s breast was thorny,
and father I had none.

The sands whispered, Be separate,
the stones taught me, Be hard.
I dance, for the joy of surviving,
on the edge of the road.

– Stanley Kunitz

We hope you enjoyed some of our favorite poems. What poetic themes and styles interest you? What about those poems hold meaning to you? What makes a poem memorable? These are all great reflective questions that we should consider throughout National Poetry Month. Whether it be reading a poem a day, reflecting on some of your favs, creating your own poetry, or actively participating in a poetry group, we wish you all a wonderful poetry month. Finally, as always, a brief reminder to be kind, stay safe, and stay hydrated and poetic!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that all our students had a fun and relaxing spring break! Especially during these times, it is super important to practice self-care and consistently decompress and treat yourself. This week on the 255 we celebrate the conclusion of Women’s History Month with one last amazing woman that shattered the glass ceiling for women everywhere – Marie Curie! We highlight Marie Curie’s work to demonstrate the groundbreaking precedent she set for women in the sciences and we provide sources you can use to continue researching her amazing career. We also want to highlight some cross disciplinary brilliance and acknowledge National Poetry Month. What does Marie Curie have to do with poetry? Stay tuned to find out!

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867. She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. Marie Curie was involved involved in a students’ revolutionary organization and eventually found it necessary to leave Warsaw, fleeing oppressive Russian domination. She finished her schooling at the Sorbonne in Paris where she obtained Licentiateships in Physics and the Mathematical Scientists. Following the death of her husband, Pierre Curie in 1906, Curie took his place and became the Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences at Sorbonne, the first time a woman ever held this position.

Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity in 1896 inspired the Curies in their researches and analyses which led to the isolation of polonium and radium. Marie Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties. Curie advocated for the use of radium to alleviate suffering during World War I and she devoted herself – alongside her daughter, Irene – to this remedial work. Marie Curie was held in high esteem and admiration by scientists throughout the world. She was a member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay from 1911 until her death and since 1922 she had been a member of the Committee of Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations.

The importance of Marie Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine, and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. Marie Curie’s contribution to the world of science not only was provided invaluable research into the discovery of polonium and radium but also established a glass-shattering precedent for all women around the world aspiring to enter the world of the sciences. To check out more information on the life of Marie Curie check out the following links below that give you fun articles, podcasts, and videos!

And now, we shift towards the poetic, in a curious and connected tangent. Adrienne Rich is one of America’s most respected poets. Born in Baltimore, MD in 1929, she grew up steeped in the intellectual ambitions of her father, who was a pathologist at Johns Hopkins. She excelled academically, and earned her degree from Radcliff University. She married and had 3 children, but her marriage began to fall apart as she became more politically aware in the 1960’s. She would later say that “the experience of motherhood was eventually to radicalize me.” This new understanding of her personal and political life began to show in her work. Beginning with Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 1954-1962 (1963), Rich’s work has explored issues of identity, sexuality, and politics. Best known for her politically-engaged verse from the tumultuous Vietnam War period, Rich’s collection Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 (1973) won the National Book Award. Rich accepted it with fellow-nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker on behalf of all women. In addition to the National Book Award, Rich received many awards and commendations for her work, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and a MacArthur “Genius” Award. She made headlines in 1997 when she refused the National Medal of Arts for political reasons. You can read more about her prolific and thoughtful career here.

We are talking about Adrienne because of a poem she wrote in The Dream of a Common Language called “Power”.

Power

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

This poem is a beautiful tribute to Marie Curie, and illustrates the ways art and science can inspire and reinforce one another. Nature often provides artists with majestic subjects and interesting, clear metaphors. Here Rich uses radiation sickness and the images of amber, decaying earth and body, to comment on the emotional landscapes of women, and the lived experience of womanhood. You can read more about the poem, and hear it read aloud by author Cherly Strayed (who includes this poem in her memoir Wild, continuing the women inspiring women train!) here.

We hope you enjoyed our last segment in our Women’s History Month series. It is crucial to recognize the contribution of women like Marie Curie to the world of science and education, and to let them inspire us towards creation like Adrienne Rich! Although Women’s History month is coming to an end, we will keep highlighting the contributions made by women in all fields, and in poetry in particular though April. We hope you’ll take the time to read and write some poetry this month, and explore poets as yet unknown to you. As always stay safe, kind, hydrated and poetic!