Throughout history, people of color have forged novel realities and cultures to resist systems of oppression. Discriminatory policies purposely prevent the voices of people of color from being shared and heard, shunting communication vital to surrounding communities. In pulling together the voices and collaborative works presented in The Poetry of Science, we offer a novel form of storytelling through the experiences of people of color, emphasizing our place within the natural landscape and attempting to answer the question, “Where do we fit in?”

This project creates positive associations between people of color, the arts, the sciences, how nature is perceived, and what it means to generate knowledge. By combining the intensity of poetry with vivid imagery, it aims to strengthen the voices and experiences of distinct communities of color, synthesizing a striking poetic and visual language to help fill the gap between the sciences and the humanities.

The Poetry of Science paired seven Cambridge-affiliated poets of color with 13 local scientists of color  to create a poem about their inspiration as scientists and their field of study. Each poet was paired with two scientists, meaning almost all poets created two distinct poems. We then worked with fine art photographer Vanessa Leroy to create portraits of each scientist.

Portraits and poems are currently on display at the Mass General Cancer Center until mid-November and will go on exhibition at the Mass General lobby (across Coffee Central) from November 13th through the 30th. The exhibition will move to the MIT Rotch Library from December 6 through January 28.

These public installations give contributing poets the opportunity to publish new work, and offer the scientists an avenue to understand their work in a new language, bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities — an analogous gesture in linking and strengthening distinct communities of color.

On behalf of our team and contributors, I invite you to engage with this special issue, and to learn more about our project. It is our hope that you are surprised, inspired, transformed by the words and images you experience.

-Joshua Sariñana, PhD
Director, The Poetry of Science
In collaboration with Linsey Jayne, MFA