Nature Twice: A Biologic Poetry Exhibit

At Washington State University’s Conner Museum last week, they opened a new exhibit, Nature Twice, which is a collaboration between WSU’s School of Biological Sciences and Department of English.

The exhibit features 40 poems about nature (a very small collection, obviously) chosen because there are specimens in the Conner Museum that the poem is about. To support the exhibit, the Museum put together a very nice booklet featuring interpretations of each poem by a graduate student poet, as well as biologic interpretations of the poem from a biology graduate student as well.

For the opening of the exhibit, there were readings from two local Poets, Linda Russo, a WSU Poetry Professor, and Ray Hanby, a WSU Poetry Master who wrote his thesis as a sonnet cycle on the salmon cycle. Both did readings of several of their poems, including one each that they were debuting for the occasion.

After the poetry reading, we were free to walk around the exhibit, viewing the poems and the exhibits. The Conner Museum is one of the largest collections of northwest animals anywhere, and while the exhibits may seem a bit dated, the specimens, which include hundreds of birds, but also aardvarks, kangaroos, bison, and, of course, a full-sized cougar, are immaculately maintained.

The Nature Twice exhibit will be available for the next several months, so I encourage you to visit and read the poems while making your way through the museum, however, even if you miss this exhibit, the museum is worth doing a walkthrough while you visit the WSU campus. It’s free (though donations are welcome) and you’ll see some really cool specimens.