I am reading The Philadelphia Inquirer on December 31. It says there will be one extra second at the moment of midnight. Time, which I thought was immutable, is apparently negotiable. This bothers me. I do research. England and France are arguing about the correct time and the earth encounters friction in the atmosphere. I find out that atomic clocks lift streams of atoms like fountains. I write "Leap Second."
Writing puts me on alert.
Ideas ambush me. I conduct left-brain research that floods me with new lenses and new language. I discover hidden connections, put disparate things in proximity, collide everyday moments with big ideas. I look for the layers and juxtapositions that take words from description to insight. I enter other disciplines—botany, physics—as an amateur, a tourist of thought. I poke around, learn the idiom and report back.
I write poems.
Beth Feldman Brandt began writing poems on March 18, 2004 at 4:00 am in a hotel in New York City. Since then, her work has explored such divergent themes as ocean habitats, atomic clocks, herbal remedies and the Origin of Species.
In 2012, she collaborated with painter and book artist Claire Owen on Sage, a book of poems and images based on John Gerard's "The herbal, or, General history of plants" from 1633. Much of this work was created during two residencies at the Ragdale Foundation in 2009 and 2010. More about this project can be found here.
Her poem, "Transmutation," based on the life of Charles Darwin, was set to music by composer Andrew Litts as part of "Dialogues with Darwin," a collaborative project between the American Philosophical Society and Network for New Music, performed in February 2010. Also in 2010, her poem "The Ten Suggestions" was set to music by composer Alexis Ford.
She has published poems in Philadelphia Stories, Quay: A Journal of the Arts and the Mad Poet's Review. Her poem, "fault lines," was a finalist for the Haiku Year-in-Review by Broadsided Press in 2010.
Beth lives near Philadelphia but would always rather be at the beach.