As a particiant in the Antarctic Artists & Writers Program, the Principal Investigator, a poet, proposes to spend time with three separate Antarctic field teams in the McMurdo Station region to study the symbiosis between animals and the scientists who study them, then interpreting these relationships into poetry that she intends to publish in nationally recognized publications.

Project Report

In November 2013, I traveled to Antarctica as a Writer in Residence, charged with the task of finding consilience between the arts and the scientists who study the animals of Antarctica (fish, penguin, seals and even soil microbes) and producing writing about their remarkable work. Sources of inspiration for the arts are everywhere in Antarctica: the colossal, heart-stopping landscape, the stacks of old polar journals in the library, the physical work of the scientists (listening to a seal heartbeat, or preserving ancient air melted out of a glacier and into a green metal canister) and in the anxious, provocative questions being asked by the scientists, particularly concerning the fate of the animals and the larger fate of the continent. So much has gone wrong with how humans have interfaced with the planet in the past century, and we now face critical years ahead as we face both personal and global decisions about how to caretake our planet. I hope the arts can play some role in conveying the absolute urgency of these questions. Some of the poems I wrote while in Antarctica have appeared on Slate, and all will be included in my forthcoming book We Mammals in Hospitable Times. Additionally, my nonfiction work was published or is forthcoming in Food & Wine, Glamour, Slate, and NPR, among other publications. I am grateful for the opportunity to bring more exposure to the urgent science work being done by a handful of dedicated, hard-working and long-suffering research teams on the bottom of the planet.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
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Peter T. West
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Martin Jennifer
United States
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