Poetry News

National Science Foundation experiments with Poet Pops

By Harriet Staff

On KUER, Utah Poet Laureate (and former Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute director) Katharine Coles reports from Antarctica, where she is currently based as part of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. The program, designed "to enable serious writings and works of art that exemplify the Antarctic heritage of humankind," takes a boat full of artists who don't require a lot of "logistical support" and can do their work on limited resources, and locates them at field camps and research stations.

...it was set up by the National Science Foundation to give the Antarctic programs a way of explaining themselves to the world in a way that's not strictly dry and scientific. I think what they sensed was they had a really wonderful set of programs down here, a lot of really wonderful science going down in a completely spectacular, almost otherworldly landscape. And that the world wasn’t necessarily hearing about these programs or even this part of the world or even necessarily gripping to the imagination, so they thought if they brought a whole different set of thinkers down here on a regular basis that slowly a more nuanced and richer understanding of the place and the people who were here might emerge from that.

Coles admits that while undergoing all the medical tests needed to make the trip, she wasn't sure what she'd gotten herself into even after all of her preparations: "There was no way to prepare the imagination for this, but that was why I was coming."

Originally Published: December 9th, 2010