The Scientific Method by Mary Alexandra Agner (a review)

The Scientific Method
Mary Alexander Agner
Parallel Press, 2011


The phrase that comes to mind when reading this book is “science vs. romance”… science and myth converge in these poems, where Agner tackles subjects that elude your typical literary-minded writer. The earth is personified in “Mother Underfoot” and the planet Venus finds a voice of her own in “Venus to Her Terraformers.” The mix of sci-fi, actual science, and personification in these poems lend a certain myth-like quality to the collection.

There is also a strong feminist flavor to the poems; it feels like peeking into the mind of a young female scientist, the cold meticulousness of science softened by emotion. Some of my favorite poems in the collection were ones that, as someone who has only taken the most basic college-level science courses, I could not properly understand the science behind them. For example, “Navier-Strokes Equations”–I have no idea what those are, but I can still feel what the author wants you to feel when I read this:

Arrows-in/tails-out tattoo
the sinks and sources of yourself.
How does the changing pressure

pressure you to change? You’ll weave
and wend according to 5 terms.
Transform what you take in. Submerge

I love “the sinks and sources of yourself,” the slant rhyme of pressure, term, submerge. Though with this poem and many others in the collection, I don’t have the science background needed to understand the scientific aspects, I am still taken in with the emotion and the lyricism Agner invokes.


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