Science Poetry


“Return to pursuits epistemic
In classrooms and lab spaces chemic;
The weather is wintry 
For ‘spring’ term re-entry:
Act 2 of the year academic.  

This blog entry, written at the start of Spring 2021, corresponds to the Twitter limerick posted on 13 January 2020, as last year’s spring term began.  Revisiting it in this space provides an opportunity to set out some general goals for the new year and the new semester, just before spring classes begin.  

“Return to pursuits epistemic / 
In classrooms and lab spaces chemic…”
The vocabulary is lofty in both lines one and two: a “pursuit epistemic” is an endeavor related to learning; a “lab space chemic” is a chemistry laboratory.  Mid-January brings a return to focused spaces such as classrooms and labs, with the start of a new term, after the semester break.  

“The weather is wintry /
For ‘spring’ term re-entry…”          
It is harder to find the motivation to begin a “spring” semester in the height of winter than to begin the “autumn” semester in late summer.  Lines three and four acknowledge this difficulty!  

“Act 2 of the year academic.”
The essay’s title takes its inspiration from this last line of the limerick.  Moreover, while I cannot exactly remember my thought process from last January, I suspect that the rhymes from lines one and two arose from an end goal of “academic,” so that the last line gave the original poem its shape, as well.  

An academic year lends itself well to (my admittedly simplistic understanding of) a two-act dramatic structure: a story told in two parts, separated by a break.  While a music-less entr’acte is a contradiction in terms, writing this poem parallels some of the role of playing or hearing such a composition: providing some time to recenter and readjust to the setting.

Certainly, the second act mentioned here– Spring 2020– brought with it quite a plot twist, which many of these Spring 2021 essays will revisit.  My Twitter posts provided more immediate reactions than did this site’s entries during the same time period, and it will be interesting to reconsider these poems from the perspective of nearly a year onward.