I write poetry and fiction as a way to pin down and explore some of the chaos of life as a biologist figuring out her place in the world and in science. I am fascinated by the intersection between art and science, mythology and all the stories we tell to make meaning from chaos, how the bizarre intricacy of the natural world sometimes exceeds our imaginations. When not writing poetry or speculative fiction, I can be found wrangling microbes, collecting rocks, or staring at the sea. My work has also appeared in Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry.
WHAT INSPIRED ONE OF YOUR POEMS?
I got the phrase “miracle and horror of it all” in monstrum from a documentary shown in a geology class about melting Antarctic ice sheets. That line, as well as the visual of this great sea of ice cracking and coming apart all at once stuck with me until I worked it into a poem. The last few lines, about the birds, come from this old rhyme about magpies, where the number of birds you see tells you something about your future. One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy. I’m interested in the contrast - that this superstition that has lasted through the centuries, while very real, very terrible events that are signs of greater problems are somehow easier to ignore these days.
TELL US AN OBSCURE THING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT THE WORLD?
It’s only obscure in that everybody experiences it differently, but I’m fascinated by how interconnected everything in the world is, even on extremely different scales. How the respiration of bacteria on the very bottom of the ocean affects the air we breathe. How we are all run on molecular machines and tectonic plates are constantly shifting under our feet. How the chemistry of our cells reflects an environment long lost to geologic time.
WHAT ODD, FUNNY OR INTERESTING FACT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR WRITING HABITS OR PROCESS?
I guess I’m a line-hoarder. I have all kinds of scraps of things I hear or read, or interesting bits of poetry that come to me but aren’t quite complete, and sometimes I take them out and piece them together and see if something sticks. A lot of poetry I write begins as a collage and coalesces as I find meaning I didn’t know I was looking for in the chaos.
HOW MUCH RESEARCH DO YOU DO WHEN WRITING?
No research intentionally. But a lot of what I write is rooted in research-heavy experiences. I use bits of myths and fairytales, which I’ve been interested in for a while (in an alternate universe I would be a folklorist or maybe linguist). A lot more inspiration comes from science, especially biology and geology, which are what I actually studied. So I get a lot of ideas from the things I read to learn about those subjects and the real research I do (going from nothing to an understanding of something nobody else in the world has yet seen is very poetic).
LASTLY, WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK 'KINGDOMS IN THE WILD'?
My first thought is of a refuge! I’m thinking that the wild is where we retreat to build new systems and societies that are kinder and more imaginative than the one we live in. Like the kinds of imaginary worlds kids dream up, where we can gather up our friends and make something uniquely ours. The wilds are definitely forests. Anything can happen once you’ve entered the territory of the trees.
ABOUT IN CONVERSATION
What makes a writer write? What resides behind the impulse to create a work of art? We have always been interested in these questions here at KITW. Incredibly, we’ve received such varied responses to the same four questions from each of our published writers, that we thought we’d share.
We hope you enjoyed your visit to Kingdoms in the Wild, if you did, please tell a friend. Thank you for your support.
CREDITS: in this issue
Author: Natasha George
Editor: Shompole N.L
Original Photograph: Hao Zhang
Graphic Design: Shompole, N.L.