Saturday, February 7, 2009

Evolving Words, Randal Keynes and The Rap Guide to Evolution

Life is rather too frenetic to blog much lately. Have just returned from a science/poetry workshop at the Hinxton Hall conference centre organised by Elizabeth Lynch as part of a Wellome Trust-sponsored project called Evolving Words. The aim of the project is to get poets and scientists working together to get young people from five UK cities to create poetry celebrating Darwin and evolution. The project will play out over most of 2009, culminating in performances in London in November. The aim of the workshop was to kick the whole project off and get everyone inspired, which it did perfectly!

In attendance on the first day was Randal Keynes, Charles Darwin's great-great-grandson and a keen devotee of the great man. I had never met Randal before, but was familiar with his work and shared several mutual acquaintances. But he embarrassed me (but in a nice way) when, during a Café Scientifique, he suddenly starting telling everyone how good my book was:

Later in the bar Randal and I had some interesting discussions of the (lack of) influence of Annie Darwin's death on Darwin's work and of the "Darwin's delay" myth. 

In the evening, there was a wonderful poetry session led by Michael Horovitz. Michael was great, but the highlight for me was Baba Brinkman performing three tracks from The Rap Guide to Evolution, the culmination of my attempts to persuade Baba to move from Chaucer to Darwin. 

Baba did a splendid job, as you can see and hear for yourself with the following three YouTube movies.

These were great! But it is going to be even better with a musical sound track and a larger stage, which is what we will have when we take Baba's show and a talk entitled The Devil in Dover (from Lauri Lebo) on tour to four UK venues (Cambridge, London, Birmingham and Shrewsbury). In the first three venues we are using university premises, so it is not clear to me whether I can open the shows up to the general public, but if you want to attend, e-mail me on and I will see what I can do. The gig in Shrewsbury is open to the public: get your tickets from The Hive.

I will try and post updates of our tour, which will include plenty of Darwinian tourism, but cannot promise to do so every day. I am looking forward to Lauri Lebo and Cyndi Sneath (one of the plaintiffs in the Dover trial) arriving in Malvern tomorrow. Cyndi has never left the USA before, so I will roll out the merry olde England tourism by putting her up in a grand hotel right next to the Priory Church yard where Annie Darwin is buried. 

And in case you were wondering about Greydon Square, it turns out sadly he is not coming. But I am confident that Baba will single-handedly deliver a great Rap tribute to Charles Darwin!

1 comment:

Karen James said...

@Randal's clip: yes! It really irritates me when the creos try to pretend they've trounced evolution by quoting (or, more often, misquoting) Darwin on something where his knowledge was so limited compared to ours today (e.g. the human eye or mechanisms of inheritance) and then strutting around like they've proven evolution wrong.