Poetry Collection “A Responsibility to Awe”
By Alison Campbell
Dr. Alison Campbell is on staff at the
Department of Physics and Astronomy at
the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She
was a close friend of Becky Elson from graduate
school until Elson’s death in 1999.
Rebecca Elson's poetry collection, “A Responsibility to Awe”, was launched in
October 2001 in Cambridge, England.
Nearly 50 people were present, including her
husband, friends and colleagues. Gerry Gilmore,
Craig Mackay and Poshak Gandhi each read one of
her poems, while others were spoken by friends
and by staff of the publishers, Oxford Poetry.
The book is receiving rave reviews in the
UK; a typical comment is “This is the most
important poetry collection of the last ten
years.” Some are calling it unique, because many
of Becky’s poems bridge the gap, so seldom
spanned, between science and emotion.
If only Becky could hear these wonderful
comments! She was always so reticent about the “other side” of her life. I (and I am sure others)
tried many times to persuade her to publish “Aberration,” her 1990 poem about the HST
PSF, but she worried that her colleagues would
no longer take her seriously.
Part of the reason publication of a major collection
of Becky’s poetry has come so soon is that,
tragically, her work is complete. But had she lived, I believe recognition was only a matter of time, for
among these poems are many that illuminate the
deep connections between our rational and our
primal understanding of the universe. Other, equally
stunning pieces on more personal themes use
powerful imagery to evoke emotions ranging
from loneliness through tenderness to passion.
Elson’s poetry collection, A Responsibility to Awe,
is available from Carcanet Press, Manchester, UK.
Cost: £ 6.95, ISBN: 1-903039-54-1.
Phone: +44-161-834-8730 ext.21;
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