Monday, 24 August 2009

Newton - the Making of Genius

This is a fabulous book, from Patricial Fara. It isn't a biography as I had originally thought, it is something much more than that. It looks at Newton's achievements as a scientist and thinker and then explores how his achievements affected science. It also looks at how Newton's ideas shaped the general public's perceptions of the natural world and how Newton was made into a hero, with statues being erected to him and his portrait being a popular addition to educated people's living rooms. I was very impressed by Fara's commitment to highlighting female scientists and the role of women throughout the book.

There is also a generous section devoted to heroic poetry written about Newton. This really got me thinking - back then poetry had a real function in terms of informing people about news events and achievements, nowadays we've lost this and I'm not sure that poetry has a real function any more, perhaps that's why in general poetry seems to need to struggle to find an audience. What does anyone else think?


Newton, The Making of Genius Patricia Fara, Picador

16 comments:

Cathy said...

i had no idea newton wrote poetry--so interesting!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Cathy - no it was poetry written about Newton, not by him...

Rabbits' Guy said...

Whoa! Thanks for the Dipper piece! My own poetry! I am honored!

For me poetry is a mostly mysterious way of putting feeling and sense into words - way different than usual conversation or reporting.

A very careful craft ..

Jasmine said...

The book sounds fascinating. I feel the art of poetry is being rekindled. I see so many documentaries explaining it and making it accessible. I was impressed by a Gryff Rhys Jones documentary around 3 months ago. It ended with a hip hop MC entering schools and teaching children to be expressive and flash with a command of extensive vocabulary and a lyrical verse.

The documentary showed a poetry slam in Camden. Kate Tempest, wow, what a young forceful energy. So much to say. A real talent.

I also think that poetry has shifted shape. Music incorporates so much. From Saul Williams, Floetry, Roots Manuva, Sarah Jones there is so much out there. So many genres expressing themselves with lyrics that if were read without the music would be considered a poetical genius in their own right.

I like your blog. It make me think :)

Deb G said...

I'm going to have to find this book.

Pretty sure there is a lot too the poetry issue, but I think that popular music has taken the place of poetry in our culture to a large extent.

Michelle Johnson said...

Hello Crafty~ I agree I think poetry is definitely low on the totem pole. But with spoken word, poetry slams and poetry blogs it is becoming a voice one can't ignore. Well hopefully~ Good night~

Delwyn said...

Hi Juliet

I love the header photo and I looked back to see that it is a Yew tree, very interesting...
I had a little heron come a'visitng here yesterday...bossy Maude and Harold...

Happy days

Paul said...

Poetry is exploding all over the world. The last twenty years or so have been dire, I agree, but I believe we stand on the verge of a great renaissance. In my opinion poetry serves many purposes, as collective memory, as a catalyst for change and as the moiling pot in which language is invented are just three.

Larry said...

Maybe it's time for people to start finding new ways to bring poetry back into the modern fold. It's been used a lot in modern music.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Looking to east, traditionally it was considered a party to drink some wine and make poems with friends, this sounds like fun to me! And it means that many people enjoyed words and their special connection to the heart and soul. It seems like in modern times words have lost their place, supplanted fast digital imagery as a way to inform and communicate.

Coastcard said...

You have raised interesting issues, here, CGP. Is art for art's sake - or is it actually 'for' something other than that end? Of course there are those who sit (& have always sat) in one camp or the other, but most of us - I suspect (if we are honest) - feel that poetry comes from the heart as well as from the mind, and can therefore represent every possible rainbow shade of experience, emotion, need, agenda etc.

Cathy said...

I suppose in a way poetry was used much more to communicate in days gone by whereas now we consider it purely for pleasure and leisure. I think you are right about it having lost its way slightly. Perhaps schools need to bring it much more to the fore in childrens' minds and teach that it goes beyond Shakespeare and Wordsworth - brilliant as they undoubtedly were. Trouble is there is so much competition these days from so much other media etc.

Thomma Lyn said...

Oh wow, that book sounds fascinating. Isaac Newton was such an interesting and multi-faceted man, and certainly a giant in the annals of science. And how neat that poetry was written about him to celebrate his achievements! Yes, I think we've lost a great deal re: poetry. I adore poetry, but it seems lovers of poetry have become relatively few and far-between. I have to wonder if, in general, shorter attention spans and more frenzied lifestyles have something to do with the change, as good poetry requires thought, reflection, and introspection on the part of the reader.

apprentice said...

I think the political landscape is such a minefield now that people find it hard to raise news issues for immediate consumption, unless it is as a piece of performance poetry.

But hard issues still get tackled -look at the body of work that has come out of "Troubles".

I'm not sure about heros in poetry though - I don't think we are that accepting of greatness any more.

Rachel Fox said...

In recent years there has been a school of thought (or something like thought) that has very much looked down on poetry that is obviously about anything. Having a message (of any kind) or indeed anything to say that people might understand became a crime it seemed...and it became impossible to suppose that a poem might manage to say something and be beautifully and/or well written. This type of atmosphere hasn't help poetry or its audience/readership I don't think. It has talked poetry into a corner in a way...but it will come out again...it is on its way.
x

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh Rachel, how true that is, how sadly true....