Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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Now that The Polymers has been published and launched, I am currently working on a new and related poetry project, one that also explores the intersection between poetry and chemistry. I thought I would spend my final Open Book blog post telling you a little about this new work. Its current title is Anatomic; it will be a book of poems that explores the ways in which the outside writes the inside of the body – both negatively in terms of pollution and positively in terms of the various microbes we depend on for our health.

Chemical pollution in the environment constitutes a kind of science experiment that we have subjected ourselves to without consent. BPA, phthalates, and other chemicals meddle with the biochemistry of our bodies. These toxins are endocrine disruptors, which means they mimic naturally occurring hormones, interfering with hormonal messages exchanged throughout the body, leading to potentially carcinogenic effects.

The environment writes the inside of our bodies in a less deadly manner in the form of multitudes of microbes that have taken up residence inside us over the course of evolutionary history. Such nonhuman creatures have become necessary for many aspects of healthy living. It is also common to find viruses and parasites in people that can change behaviour in often subtle but significant ways (see Toxoplasma gondii).

I plan to test myself for about 70 different synthetic chemicals. I also plan to sample my microbiome (with the assistance of a university lab in the US). What’s in me is probably in you too. I will develop methodologies for the poems from the research I conduct into the chemical structures, industrial and evolutionary histories, and biological effects of the chemicals and microbes I discover in my body. By making a toxicological and symbiotic map of my own body, by writing about the way the outside writes the inside, I hope that this book will represent a unique and provocative approach to important issues in environmental pollution and ecopoetics. You can read more about my project in an interview I did with the Canadian Chemical News / L’Actualité chimique canadienne .

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Adam Dickinson

Adam Dickinson’s poems have appeared in literary journals in Canada and internationally. His first book of poetry, Cartography and Walking (Brick Books), was shortlisted for an Alberta Book Award. His second collection, Kingdom, Phylum (Brick Books), was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. His third collection of poetry, The Polymers is published by House of Anansi Press.

Go to Adam Dickinson’s Author Page