January 26: When is a scientist a poet and when is a poem an experiment?

Not only can poetry and science mix, but apparently they can mingle. A woman who taught psychology and a medical technician write verse which touches thoughtfully and beautifully on many topics while the trained asthete among the night’s trio subjects words, letters and lyricism itself to scientific rigour.

Three clever people, each reaching outside of their respective box, graced the Art Bar with their words (and sounds).

Stephen Humphrey

Sonja Greckol

The body elicits many concerns for Sonja Greckol. It’s a thing of erotic desire, a political landscape and a subject of cold inquiry for scientists, journalists and artists such as Cuban-born performance artist Ana Mendieta. A one-time psychologist, Greckol also examined the ethics of researchers by revisiting the controversial Milgram obedience experiments of the 1970s.

Note: sharp ears will catch Christian Bök’s appears as a background character in Sonja’s interview.


Weyman Chan

When Calgary poet Weyman Chan is not writing poems, he’s busy performing histological and electron microscopic tests in a windowless basement of the local healthcare system. It seems odd at first that a person in such an analytical profession would write with such minute, tender concern about the patients who come through his lab as anonymous samples.

He makes them sound almost like children on their first day of school.

As the reading begins, Weyman says, “Any place where writing and poetry are celebrated is almost like family. It is family.”

Midway through he states that poetry “brings you back to a place where innocence rules.”

In his poetry everyone seems innocent and everyone seems like family.


Christian Bök

Christian Bök amazed everybody in 2002 when Eunoia, a little book of experimental writing won the Griffin Poetry Prize. Eunoia has since gone to outsell other Canadian poetry books and last year ranked on the UK bestseller list. His current ambition is to encode a book-length poem into the DNA of the world’s toughest organism.

Once a scion of the Toronto lit scene, Bök is now a creative writing instructor at the University of Calgary, with a lot of good things to say about Calgary’s writing community. He returned to Toronto for one night to thrill and amaze a packed house at the Art Bar.


To hear about Christian’s collaboration with the AI named Alice, visit the blog, I, Sexy Robot.


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