SpotOn videos

SpotOn poetry competition winner

Dr. Sam Illingworth and Dan Simpson’s lively discussion of science and poetry was one of the highlights of SpotOn this year. With the two speakers battling over who was better: Scientists writing poetry, or poets writing about science? It was the audience who cast the deciding votes, using their peer review paddles to decide if each poetic example used should be accepted, rejected (or whether it needed to undergo minor or major revisions).

Dr Illingworth brought the day’s proceedings to a close by announcing and reciting the winner of the SpotOn 2016 science poetry competition. Launched in October, and running throughout the event, we received entries with themes ranging from climate change, to genetics, to the lives of scientists and peer review itself.

We were incredibly impressed with every entry we received and the unison of science and arts, the theme of Sam and Dan’s session, was certainly supported by these.

But there could only be one winner and our judge selected “Psalm of the Scientist” by Jenna Shapiro, University of Cambridge. We wanted to share it with you here.

Psalm of the Scientist 

When I hit "submit",
I submit my very soul
for judgement
by a jury of my peers --
a trial by firing neurons.

Do you accept
or reject my premise?
My hypothesis?
Life's work?
Life's worth?

When we abide by publish
or perish,
our very fates intertwine
with facts and figures.

And I figure the fact
that our fates
rest in the hands of our peers,
we should review
how we inject the very meaning of life
in the process.

When every paper written
is a memoir, a diary,
an autobiography
filled with bitter ambition
laced with the purest sweet hope
of expanding the bounds
of human knowledge --

Our peers are not peers
but gods amongst us,
carefully guarding the trove
of mortal enlightenment
from reaching, grasping

Jenna Shapiro

Jenna received £50 of Amazon vouchers and a large applause from the SpotOn audience. We wanted to congratulate Jenna once again and thank her and the rest of the talented people who submitted entries. The response to our competition mirrored the fantastic engagement that we saw at the event, and which made the day a SpotOn to remember.

SpotOn 2016 photo-booth gallery