Scientists and poets team up to explore creative links

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An album pairing spoken word artists with scientists is being launched by spoken word label Nymphs & Thugs. The Experimental Words album features well-known scientists such as BBC Radio 4’s Professor Adam Hart, Professor Hannah Cloke, and author of Expert, Professor Roger Kneebone. Among the poets are BBC regular Joelle Taylor, London laureate Momtaza Mehri, and Off West End award winner Desree.

Experimental Words was originally devised by Dr Sam Illingworth (associate professor in academic practice, Napier University, Edinburgh) and poet Dan Simpson (poet-in-residence Glastonbury Festival, Imperial College London, St Albans Cathedral). After successful live gigs in Manchester, Edinburgh, London, and Chicago, the science communication duo turned to a recorded format during the pandemic.

Along with spoken word performances from poets and scientists, the tracks on the Experimental Words album use music and sound effects to explore the creative power of the performing arts and science. The album will be available on all major music streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. Music-video style short films will also be created to accompany three of the tracks – and the album artwork is also an experiment itself, generated by an algorithm influenced by the words from the poems.

Dr Sam Illingworth, whose work and research focuses on using poetry and games to develop dialogue between different audiences, said: “Science and poetry offer complementary ways of trying to make sense of the world in which we live. I am so excited to share this album, and to listen to the conversations that I know it will start about how the sciences and the arts can work together for the benefit of society.”

Dan Simpson said: “Science and poetry have historically had a tricky relationship, but both disciplines come from the same place of inspiration and communication. Having heard the incredible power, depth, and beauty of the tracks our collaborators have created, I can’t wait to launch this unique spoken word album.”

Experimental Words is funded by Arts Council England. The album will be launched online on Zoom on 23 June. More details



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