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Jill Twist: The Only Thing, a Photo Essay

Editor’s note: The Poetry/Science Symposium at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island is an annual event geared toward facilitating a conversation about the intersection of poetry and science. Lectures, panel discussions, and field expeditions. Professors, researchers, and students. By land and by sea, by page and by specimen. Attendees bring back unlikely stories: a sea lion devours a shark, Coleridge’s infamous mariner takes over the campus, a storm-driven power outage blots out even the night’s stars. Photographer and writer Jill Twist set out to document the weekend knowing this essay would primarily represent the speakers–poets and scientists–among the setting of the labs. Beyond the images, she discovered a set of captions for each photo in the form excerpts of conversation and lectures delivered during the Symposium.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

1. Poetry, like life, is a delicate dance between a robot and a gorilla.

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2. How is it, then, that the world is ending but cephalopods exist?

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3. All of this connects with what I’m trying to say, I just can’t tell you how.

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4. I’m here to tell you, you must light up your own neural pathways.

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5. For even the strongest of trees can tremble in the tiniest breeze.

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6. And each metaphor must be vetted in the court of the true, of the good, of the beautiful.

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7. Remember, there is no room for doubt in fast thinking.

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8. There is only a lion-like response, picking up on a good scent.

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9. Science was the god of thought, once. Now, the mind must find it’s own way home.

Jill Twist grew up in Buffalo, New York and now lives on an island in Washington State. She has edited writing on civil rights activism, revival of a Chilean Indigenous language, accessibility of higher education for non-native English speakers, and more. Her writing appears in Across the Margin, The Review Review, and Rozlyn Press. To learn more about her work, please visit www.JillDianeTwist.wordpress.com.