Poet sets out on new voyage of discovery

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A POET is getting his sea legs as he embarks on a new project at the University of Hull.

Dr John Wedgwood Clarke who is spending the year as poet in residence at Scarborough’s Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences, is setting off on a field trip with students to the Isle of Cumbrae today.

He said: “I am hoping to offer the skills that I have in describing the world to scientists who use a different kind of language and bring the two together.

“A scientist has to be incredibly precise, use Latin terms, words for which there can be no ambiguity. Sometimes for being precise they lose some of the common way of describing stuff that lay people would understand - it could be quite an emotional response to something in a rock pool. There’s no reason why we can’t combine the two.”

Dr Clarke, who runs the Beverley Literature Festival, will write a series of poems about exploring the seashore, inspired by John Steinbeck’s 1941 classic Log from the Sea of Cortez. Each fortnight one of them will be projected onto a wall in the library and appear on the campus website. He also aims to create links between students from different disciplines – to help them see there’s not such a divide between art and science after all.

He said: “I’d like to give the students some good writing skills that will help them communicate to a wider audience the discoveries that they make. I’ll be trying to make myself as conspicuous as possible, sitting in the library, going and talking to students who are passing by, maybe starting to link people together with similar interests.”

Lecturer Dr Magnus Johnson said: “In ecology the interesting bits are often at the boundaries between ecosystems, for example the intertidal zone between the land and the sea. I believe the same to be true at the boundaries between disciplines; John’s interest in the sea counterpoints nicely with the natural love academics have for words.”