Human Cell Atlas: Young Poets Challenge

Image Credit: Robert Hooke’s own illustration of his compound microscope and a drawing of the cells in a slice of cork

The Language of Cells – Poetic Science?

The Human Cell Atlas, in partnership with The Poetry Society and the Young Poets’ Network and The Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts have come together to design an exciting new Poetry Challenge for younger poets (11-25 years) from all over the world using HCA research as inspiration for new work. 

The Language of Cells – Poetic Science? challenge invites you to create an associative word poem inspired by the language of the Human Cell Atlas scientific research. This is a challenge about science. But it is also a challenge about language. 

Explore the ways in which cells and poems connect. Like cells, each word in a poem is a distinct entity; and just like cells each word crucially contains a world in itself. Each word is bounded by its own discreet meaning, just as each cell is bounded by the cell wall, and each word has its own definition in a dictionary. Yet just as each cell is designed to connect to other cells, each word is also designed to connect to other words, to be lifted and dropped into sentences at will. And it’s when you do this, when you connect words with other words (or cells with other cells) that magic happens – a human body stands up and walks, a poem forms itself and lifts off the page.

Click here to find out more about our challenge and how to submit your poem.

Deadline:  31 January 2021 (midnight GMT).

In January 2021 four poems of all the entries will be selected by a HCA scientist and a poet. Prizes will include a £25 book token; publication in the Human Cell Atlas artist Zine and mentoring by an established poet-artist with experience of responding creatively to scientific research.