Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Science Side

Something From The Science Side

Something from the science side of the scientificpoet this time.  In 1971 Harper and Row published Environmental Insight, a collection of articles dealing with environmental issues and problems which I had selected, edited and prefaced with a brief essay. Each of the six sections had quotation or a poem as a prolog. The poems of course were mine. The section on population was titled The Fateful Exponent, followed by this poem. Looking back after 34 years I'm not sure why I chose that poem.

(and God be directed
          to cast one vote...)

God made Heaven and Earth
and all its murderous
mountainous features
With all its crawling
and squirming creatures —
equipped them with wings
and musical screeches.
And then he made man
in His image
and man said, "I move
the nominations be closed..."

I'm sure Harper and Row made no money from the book I certainly didn't make enough to pay for ten percent of the labor, but they gave me an advance, I took a year's leave and wrote an introductory biology book that was published in 1976. I tried my best to get them to give it a title that would give a fair clue to the fact that it was not a conventional introductory text. It was a vision of a different way to teach introductory biology: there were six sections or topics, each developed a topic from molecular-cellular level to population-social concerns. I wanted the title to be something like Six Introductions To Biology. The editors, in their wisdom were adventurous and titled it An Introduction To Biology. So everyone who ordered an inspection copy didn't get what they were looking for, a conventional introductory textbook. It got good review and I received come very pleasing letters. It was soon remaindered.
Each section sported a sub-title page, some with a poem or a collage (mine of course). Despite its commercial failure (no teachers wanted to alter their entire lesson plan for a radically new arrangement of content) I still receive a hundred dollars or so in royalty after 29 years. Someone in England is using photocopy material from the book every year. If you are really curious there are still a few used copies listed through Amazon--really cheap!

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