Emerging Ideas

James Stone: Poetry in Data

Poetry in Data is an experiment.

At first glance, poetry and data are very different things. They inhabit different worlds and speak different languages. So what happens when they collide? Could they fuse into something interesting?



Slime Mould draws parallels between life in the petri-dish and human drives to proliferate and consume, without the benefit of a birds-eye view. It suggests we are scrambling to connect with each other in a bid to escape an apocalypse of our own making, though we may not realise it. It poses the question who might escape, and how?


Family considers the extent to which our genes are responsible for who we are, and that we are all a work in progress. Our subjective experience is determined not only by our genes, which would suggest our experience is very similar to other species, but by how their products are arranged in space and time, like the words in a story or poem.


Differential expression is based on a paper in Nature (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-04792-5) that suggests plants remember and respond to attacking organisms, but not through an immune system as we know it. Researchers infected tomato vines, disintegrated their cells and read the molecular messages inside, inspiring the fragmented format of this experimental poem.


James Stone works as an analyst in the UK health service. He is interested in systems, complexity, innovation and the transfer of ideas between fields. He has a degree and a masters in the life sciences and has no formal artistic or creative training, learning instead by experimentation. James likes poetry and data because they pack a lot of meaning into a small space. He is developing new forms based on their fusion, which he calls ‘datapoems’. See more at www.poetryindata.com

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