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Cross-Pollinations: The Marriage of Science and Poetry

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In this book, Nabhan describes the circumstances of several of important--even breakthrough--discoveries that came about through the cross-pollination of science and the arts. His stories mix the personal and scientific in an engaging way. When he found out in high school that he is color blind, an amazing teacher chided him to use his so-called problem to explore varietie In this book, Nabhan describes the circumstances of several of important--even breakthrough--discoveries that came about through the cross-pollination of science and the arts. His stories mix the personal and scientific in an engaging way. When he found out in high school that he is color blind, an amazing teacher chided him to use his so-called problem to explore varieties of perception. Years later, Nabhan organized teams of color-blind and color-normal scientists to survey a plant thought to be endangered. The color-blind scientists' results changed the views of that ecosystem. Nabhan tells about ancient songs of the O'odham people that contain an understanding of plant ecology that science has only recently caught up to. In perhaps the most stirring chapter, he describes how one of the native women he knows pleaded with him to put his knowledge to use to help find the reason for persistent diabetes among native peoples. Nabhan describes how the structure of an Amy Clampitt poem gave him the inspiration for a research model that led to an understanding of native plants and the metabolism of sugar. The last chapter is a rousing account of the creation of the Ironwood Forest National Monument in the Sonoran Desert.


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In this book, Nabhan describes the circumstances of several of important--even breakthrough--discoveries that came about through the cross-pollination of science and the arts. His stories mix the personal and scientific in an engaging way. When he found out in high school that he is color blind, an amazing teacher chided him to use his so-called problem to explore varietie In this book, Nabhan describes the circumstances of several of important--even breakthrough--discoveries that came about through the cross-pollination of science and the arts. His stories mix the personal and scientific in an engaging way. When he found out in high school that he is color blind, an amazing teacher chided him to use his so-called problem to explore varieties of perception. Years later, Nabhan organized teams of color-blind and color-normal scientists to survey a plant thought to be endangered. The color-blind scientists' results changed the views of that ecosystem. Nabhan tells about ancient songs of the O'odham people that contain an understanding of plant ecology that science has only recently caught up to. In perhaps the most stirring chapter, he describes how one of the native women he knows pleaded with him to put his knowledge to use to help find the reason for persistent diabetes among native peoples. Nabhan describes how the structure of an Amy Clampitt poem gave him the inspiration for a research model that led to an understanding of native plants and the metabolism of sugar. The last chapter is a rousing account of the creation of the Ironwood Forest National Monument in the Sonoran Desert.

54 review for Cross-Pollinations: The Marriage of Science and Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    This is a short, beautiful, urgent read in which Nabhan makes a case for seeing the world differently (one of my favorite chapters is on how his color-blindness, a disability that he lamented in his teenage years, serves as an asset in conservation biology, when he sees camouflaged plants that others don't see because of their color perception) and also for practicing the sciences and the arts simultaneously, an insight so strikingly true that it makes the current policies of most U.S. universit This is a short, beautiful, urgent read in which Nabhan makes a case for seeing the world differently (one of my favorite chapters is on how his color-blindness, a disability that he lamented in his teenage years, serves as an asset in conservation biology, when he sees camouflaged plants that others don't see because of their color perception) and also for practicing the sciences and the arts simultaneously, an insight so strikingly true that it makes the current policies of most U.S. universities and their STEM obsession seem obviously and damagingly obtuse. For example, in one of the chapters, Nabhan reveals that a poem passed down in one of the indigenous tribes in the desert he studies turned out not merely to be metaphorical but to explain the toxicological effects of a cactus and also the relationship between the neighboring insects and those datura blossoms. Again and again, Nabhan demonstrates that metaphor is a powerful way of apprehending the world and one that brings the natural observations of poetry together with the conclusion-drawing of science. He's an eloquent writer, and he also attests to the joys of creative production on both sides of the disciplinary divide. Additionally, he recognizes the importance of writing and art to communicate the urgency of conservation. One chapter is about using writers to publicize the decimation of ironwood trees for mesquite charcoal in high-end cooking; before the publicity campaign, people thought of scraggly ironwoods as waste trees. Through a collaboration of scientists and writers, the campaign illustrated for a broader audience the centrality of ironwoods to an ecosystem that otherwise the public tended to view as waste. An insightful and powerful book that celebrates and urges on the necessary collaborations between anthropology, conservation biology, creative writing, public health, and more. This book really made me want to teach a course for freshmen and sophomores on science and literature and their intersections.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

    These essays were very interesting; while I've thought of how philosophy could work hand-in-hand with science, I had never considered how science and the arts could work together for change. I'd love to see how dance could be a part of these "cross pollinations"! These essays were very interesting; while I've thought of how philosophy could work hand-in-hand with science, I had never considered how science and the arts could work together for change. I'd love to see how dance could be a part of these "cross pollinations"!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Quite an interesting exploration of the possibilities of interconnection between poetry and science. I keep trying to bring his insights into my work, but I think Nabhan is smarter than I am :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Bancroft

    This small volume is an excellent introduction to the prolifc author and ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan. His literary and scientific work covers a broad range and offers proof that cross-pollination between literature and science promotes conservation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    j

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sandy D.

    A beautiful little book that should be more widely read by both scientists and literature writers/lovers. It's a really fascinating look at an amazing MacArthur Foundation (genius award) winner's work in the 80's and 90's, with insights on such varied topics as ADD, color-blindness, Native American poetry and hallucinogen use, cactus pollination, mesquite charcoal use in American restaurants, environmentalism, and the sources of creativity. A beautiful little book that should be more widely read by both scientists and literature writers/lovers. It's a really fascinating look at an amazing MacArthur Foundation (genius award) winner's work in the 80's and 90's, with insights on such varied topics as ADD, color-blindness, Native American poetry and hallucinogen use, cactus pollination, mesquite charcoal use in American restaurants, environmentalism, and the sources of creativity.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    Came away from Nabhan's Credo more impressed than ever by the work of this creative writer/scientist. His exploration of the survival of Sonoran cactus and the diabetic dietary needs of the desert long time inhabitants was helpful to the survival of both. Amazing. Love his creative thinking and his writing. Came away from Nabhan's Credo more impressed than ever by the work of this creative writer/scientist. His exploration of the survival of Sonoran cactus and the diabetic dietary needs of the desert long time inhabitants was helpful to the survival of both. Amazing. Love his creative thinking and his writing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heid

    A wonderful answer to any writer who must balance creative and critical work. Beautifully poetic, kind and hopeful. One of my favorite authors!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

    good so far! it's making me think. :) good so far! it's making me think. :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Nabhan is a great writer. This is great book, and is a lovely portrayal of what can happen when science and indigenous culture meet!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tova

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joel Johnson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ysabel

  16. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

  17. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn Brown

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Hudson

  21. 5 out of 5

    Megan W

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick DiMartino

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miles

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steven

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  28. 5 out of 5

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  29. 4 out of 5

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    Kory

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    Steve

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    Madelyn

  54. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

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