Welcome to physics and poetry
I am a physicist by training, and a poet by accident. The combination of talents is somewhat unusual in our culture, though it seems perfectly natural to me. Both are unlikely outcomes of my experience as a citizen soldier in the Vietnam conflict of the late lamented 20th Century. My battlefield experience there convinced me that I wanted to do something positive and useful with the rest of my life. Physics played a large part in satisfying that need. I earned my Ph.D., got a job, married, had children, and, in general, got on with life. Thirty years later, inexplicably, I decided to write a poem for a close friend that died, my first poem since high school. His family read it as they put him in the ground. Several days later, I started to pen a few lines for my children, to give them a sense of what the Vietnam experience was like. It was like going back in time. I was in Vietnam, once again. In little over a week, I had written about a hundred short pieces, about half of the text that would become Flashback: A Journey in Time.
Since then, I have spent a lot more time with poets, especially through my association with the summer writers workshop of the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences. A few summers back, they asked me to present a talk on the interface of the two cultures. I began by explaining that, for me, the two disciplines are both idealistic searches for truth, although their methodologies and values are quite different. Whether or not that is the case, there is a good deal of physics in my poetry, and some poetry in my physics.
You can enter the site you clicking on any of the links below:
- Physics (My physics department home page, vitae, and downloadable talks and papers)
- Poetry (My writer's notebook and more on my published poetry)
- Teaching (Course links, etc.).
Enjoy. -jmf 05/12/2008