Poetry, Science

Radioactivity

I have a new poem out! To be perfectly honest it came out a couple of months ago, but I’m behind on updating the website, so I suppose if you haven’t come across said poem yet it’s new to you. Anyway, “Radioactivity” is free to read in the wonderful Uncanny Magazine. I’ve sold to Uncanny before, but never a poem, so it’s lovely to be in there again, and in a different form.

“Radioactivity” is a poem about Marie Curie. She’s a scientist I have always admired, and let’s face it, when you think of the history of women in science she’s at the very top, or close to it. My favourite story about her is referenced briefly in the poem. It’s about her cookbook. Now, when Marie was researching radiation, it was the big new thing in science and no-one really understood that it wasn’t the best idea to shove highly radioactive material in your pockets and handle it with bare hands and so on. But Marie had her hands and her pockets, and when she finished working in the lab for the day she’d go home and cook her family dinner, and when she did the radioactive material that was smeared all over her fingers transferred to the pages of her cookbook, as she flipped through it looking for recipes. That cookbook still exists. It’s in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and to this day it’s so radioactive that it needs to be kept in a lead-lined box.

I love that story. It makes Curie seem so utterly human… as does, I hope, the rest of the poem.

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