wonderful to read Anne’s poem again

Seren Books Blog

In celebration of the brief heatwave that has hit the UK, we are taking this week’s Friday Poem from Anne Cluysenaar’s tropical Batu-Angas: Envisioning Nature with Alfred Russel Wallace.

Batu-Angas Anne CluysenaarAlfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) was one of the most famous scientists of the 19th century and is best known today as the co-discoverer, with Charles Darwin, of the theory of evolution through natural selection. Wallace’s life and work are the inspiration for this beautifully considered collection of poems. Why the title? As Anne Cluysenaar explains in her Foreword:

It was during an acute bout of malaria on the volcanic island of Ternate that it ‘flashed upon’ Wallace how life evolves through natural selection … From the local language of Ternate itself, Wallace had borrowed the phrase ‘batu-angas’ to describe the ‘burnt rocks’ or cooled lava he saw there. The phrase struck me as as suitable title for this sequence…

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