GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 166-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


BURR, Devon M., Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, 602 Strong Hall, 1621 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996-1526,

Scientific research has shown that poetry can be a useful approach for teaching scientific concepts. And for those not natively – or not exclusively – inclined to the pursuit of the beauty of nature and science, poetry and other arts provides for fuller expression of our appreciation of their rhythms, delights, and blessings. I used poetry to express my appreciation of geoscientific phenomena long before I became a practicing geoscientist. For example, I used poetry to grasp atmospheric appearances and glaciogenic landforms during military duty in Antarctica. Today, I use poetry in teaching my upper-level, undergraduate terrestrial geomorphology course. Students are required to submit and present to the class one poem that fulfills three criteria: 1) accurately explains a scientific concept, 2) is verbally poetic, and 3) includes a visually artistic element that is consonant with the science behind the poem. This GSA presentation will include examples of geosciences-related poetry from me and my students over a range of poetic styles, including haiku, sonnet, pantoum, and free verse, and over a range of natural geoscience concepts or events, derived from fluvial, glacial, and aeolian geomorphology, atmospheric processes, and charismatic megafauna appearances. These poems will be presented without accompaniment, but collaborations with musically-inclined individuals who enjoy setting poems to music would be welcome!