Scientific poems Deborah poetrz
Since our gods and our aspirations are no longer anything but
scientific, why shouldn't our loves be so too? In place of that Eve of
the forgotten legend despised and discredited by Science,
I offer you a scientific Eve…
— L'Eve Future, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam
Let us obtain from science
an equation for love. Give her
silver skin, impregnable
armour. Let Hadaly's lungs
be golden phonographs, programmed
with great works of art. Let her save
Simple minded men
from the rouge pots
of their deceptive mistresses.
Let this innocent facsimile
replace false, mediocre
with her enchanting, ever-
our electric phantom, our
'Hadaly' (1886) is largely composed of phrases found in Villiers de L'Isle-Adam's 1886 novel L'Eve Future, translated by Robert Martin Adams (University of IllinoisPress, 1988). This poem comes from a sequence 'A short history of automata' which appears in Husk, Chris' first book published by Auckland University Press. The author of the novel Tomorrow's Eve (in which the 'character' of Hadaly appears), Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, later became the subject of the long essay 'Variable Stars' in Chris' genre-crossing work Brief Lives.
I love the way Chris explores science and technology in unexpected ways. I'm very interested in representations of women as cyborgs and androids, usually that takes place in futuristic writing but here Chris looks to the past, which is a pleasing turn-around for me as a reader. Also the fact that it is a found poem reflects the constructed nature of automata in a most satisfying way!
MONTANA NEW ZEALAND BOOK AWARDS 2002
NZ SOCIETY OF AUTHORS JESSIE MCKAY AWARD FOR BEST FIRST BOOK OF POETRY
Though a first collection Husk is a polished, elegant, mature work; it introduces an original new talent. Chris Price's poems are characterised by witty suprises, sudden unexpected shifts of image, forms of wordplay, neat little jumps from one idea to another. Material comes from a experience as diverse as foreign travel and reading in the byways of scientific knowledge. The vivid sequence "A brief history of automata" draws on odd snippets of information from ancient Egypt and Crete, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the electronic age. Covering a wide range of interests, themes and tones, there is an alertness, a sense of delight about all these poems. Husk marks the beginning of an interesting career and broadens our understanding of contemporary New Zealand poetry.
Poems from Husk
A brief history of Automata
(1) Prehistory, or rumours and sighs
Anubis, jackal-messenger, talked
to the Egyptians through a tube that ran
from the mouth of his wooden head
all the way to the Underworld.
Daedalus, inventor-craftsman, made moving
statues to guard the Cretan labyrinth
where the Minotaur shook his shaggy head
and bellowed pain. Mark Antony made Caesar
sit up again on the way to the funeral, all bloody
with his wounds. Albertus Magnus' talking
heads were brazen; Paracelsus made homunculi
from blood and semen. Archytas and Heron
|constructed birds that flew, and sang
but the Neopolitan hygienist, Bishop
Virgilius, had a large brass fly.
It proved so efficient
at chasing all the other flies away
that no meat spoiled in Naples
for eight years &emdash; early proof that reason
and the church need not be enemies.
Virgilius, may that maggot, Doubt
never take up residence
in our memory of you.
for Ian Wedde at Gladstone Vineyard
A big one, by the sound of it
the sure beat of an old engine
reliable after all
the flash new models
have given up the ghost
lacking the guts to make it
over the big hill from Wellington
to where you now stand
and deliver, bare feet
on a Persian rug in fierce
sun, and somewhere
out of sight, the sly
of magpies. True, it's run down
round here, but the grapes
are driving a comeback.
You had a head start -- hearing,
art, an elliptical star --
until, like the Georgians,
you ran out of steam.
The prescription? Well,
a glass of red a day
stops the arteries
they say, and in the end
old forms refuse corrosion.
Out here things are
as they seem -- and so
it's good to see you
taking heart, that glad
stone, something unfashionable
that suddenly we all
can't get enough of.
Chris Price has an MA in English and German from the University of Auckland, and an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington. She has worked as an in-house editor in trade publishing, for Reeds, and also edited New Zealand's longest-running literary magazine, Landfall, from 1993 to 2000. Since 1992 Chris has been the co-ordinator of a major international literary event, the Writers and Readers Week, for the New Zealand Festival of the Arts in Wellington. She also teaches a course on "Creative Writing in the Marketplace" at the International Institute of Modern Letters (Victoria University of Wellington), home of poet Bill Manhire's highly regarded creative writing programmes. Chris lives in Wellington, and occasionally plays percussion in an improvisational acoustic music line-up called "Waiting for Donald". She has been widely published in literary journals. Husk is her first collection of poetry.