by Katrina Porteous


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Scientists and engineers are the great explorers of our age. Inspired by the work of leading research scientists, by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, space telescopes which allow us to see our Sun in wavelengths far beyond human vision, and by the Cassini mission’s astonishing photos of Saturn’s moons, poet Katrina Porteous translates to the non-scientist contemporary questions about the nature of physical reality and our understanding of it. Edge contains three poem sequences, Field, Sun and the title sequence, which extend Porteous’ previous work on nature, place and time beyond the human scale. They take the reader from the micro quantum worlds underlying the whole universe, to the macro workings of our local star, the potential for primitive life elsewhere in the solar system on moons such as Enceladus, and finally to the development of complex consciousness on our own planet. As scientific inquiry reveals the beauty and poetry of the universe, Edge celebrates the almost-miraculous local circumstances which enable us to begin to understand it. All three pieces were commissioned for performance in Life Science Centre Planetarium, Newcastle between 2013 and 2016, with computer music by Peter Zinovieff. Sun was part of NUSTEM’s Imagining the Sun project for schools and the wider public (Northumbria University 2016). The title sequence, Edge, was broadcast as a Poetry Please Special on BBC Radio 4. Edge is Katrina Porteous's third poetry book from Bloodaxe, her first to draw upon her long involvement in scientific projects, following two earlier collections, The Lost Music (1996) and Two Countries (2014), concerned with the landscapes and communities of North-East England.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781780374901
Publisher: Bloodaxe Books
Publication date: 11/26/2019
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Katrina Porteous was born in Aberdeen, grew up in Co. Durham, and has lived on the Northumberland coast since 1987. She read History at Cambridge and afterwards studied in the USA on a Harkness Fellowship. Many of the poems in her first collection, The Lost Music (Bloodaxe Books, 1996), focus on the Northumbrian fishing community, about which Katrina has also written in prose in The Bonny Fisher Lad (The People’s History, 2003). Katrina also writes in Northumbrian dialect, and has recorded her long poem, The Wund an’ the Wetter, on CD with piper Chris Ormston (Iron Press, 1999). Her second full-length collection from Bloodaxe, Two Countries (2014), was shortlisted for the Portico Prize for Literature 2015. Katrina has been involved in many collaborations with other artists, including public art for Seaham, Co. Durham, with sculptor Michael Johnson, and two books with maritime artist James Dodds, Longshore Drift (Jardine Press, 2005) and The Blue Lonnen (Jardine Press, 2007). She often performs with musicians, including Chris Ormston, Alistair Anderson and Alexis Bennett. She is particularly known for her radio-poetry, much of it produced by Julian May. One of these poems, Horse, with electronic music by Peter Zinovieff, first performed at Sage Gateshead for the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival 2011, is published as an artists’ book and CD, with prints by Olivia Lomenech Gill (Windmillsteads Books, 2014). Katrina’s third full-length collection, Edge (Bloodaxe Books, 2019), draws on three collaborations commissioned for performance in Life Science Centre Planetarium, Newcastle, between 2013 and 2016, with multi-channel electronic music by Peter Zinovieff: Field, Sun and Edge. Sun was part of NUSTEM’s Imagining the Sun project for schools and the wider public (Northumbria University, 2016). Edge, a poem in four moons incorporating sounds collected from space missions, was broadcast as a Poetry Please Special on BBC Radio 4 in 2013.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9


Volcanoes of Io 26


Field I 29

Quiet I & II 30

Gravity I & II 32

Electromagnetism I & II 34

Higgs I & II 36

Quantum I & II 38

Dark 41

Field II 42


Various Uncertainties I 44

Aurora 45

Observatory 46


Real 48

Dynamo 49

Hydrostatic Equilibrium 50

Rotation Patterns 51

Sunquake 52

Sunspots 53

Many 54

Flare 55

Stolen Light 56

Corona 57

Spicules 58

Null Point 59

Magnetic Reconnection 60

The Sun makes a noise! 61

Fraunhofer Lines 62

Window 63

Frequencies 64


Various Uncertainties II 67

Speakable and Unspeakable 68


First Rising Tide 70

Io, first postcard I & II 72

Io, Jupiter's Moon 74

Enceladus, first postcard I & II 75

Enceladus, Saturn's Moon 77

Titan, first postcard I & II 78

Space Telescope 81

First High Tide 82

Io, first falling tide I, II & III 83

First Falling Tide 86

Enceladus, first falling tide 87

Second Rising Tide 89

Io, second rising tide I & II 90

Titan, second rising tide 93

Highest Tide 95

Moon 96


Wake 102

An Education 103

Intertidal 104

Notes 111

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