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Map: Poems After William Smith's Geological Map of 1815

By: Michael McKimm (Editor)

88 pages, no illustrations

Worple Press

Paperback | Mar 2015 | #223577 | ISBN-13: 9781905208326
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £9.99 $12/€11 approx

About this book

The poems in this anthology celebrate a map, a man, and a science. The science is geology. The man is William Smith (1769 – 1839), civil engineer and geologist. The map is Smith's masterpiece: A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland, the first geological map of an entire country, published in 1815.

As a working engineer, not a gentleman, Smith was unable to become a member of the newly formed Geological Society. His contribution to the new science of geology was initially dismissed by the Society, which set out to produce its own rival map. Coupled with some imprudent investments, Smith's venture culminated in a stretch in debtor's prison. By the time of his death in 1839, however, Smith's achievements had been recognised; in 1831 he was awarded the Geological Society's first Wollaston Medal in recognition of his work, and honoured by the Society's President, Adam Sedgwick, as 'the father of English geology'.

To mark the two hundredth anniversary of its publication, the editor invited a number of poets to respond to the map, Smith's life, and his legacy. The editor was thrilled by the generosity and enthusiasm with which they embraced this invitation and the different routes their poems took. It was a pleasure to introduce many of them to the Geological Society's map up close and to listen to their astute and creative observations. There are poems in this anthology that tell the story of Smith's genius and his misfortune; poems about fossil hunting and map making; poems about the drive of the Industrial Revolution and our continuing reliance on fossil fuels. When most of us look at a map we look for home, and the same is true of many of these poets. But Smith's alien cartography of colour makes us see home in a radically different light, and so the poets, representing the geographical reach of Smith's map, confront the reader with new ways of seeing the landscape and history of Britain. Their poems illustrate not only the vibrancy and variety of contemporary poetry but also poetry's unique ability to take on uncharted territory with vision, to make connections and find relevance: the poems here make Smith's map anew in moving and surprising ways.


Introduction 1 Michael McKimm

Treasure Island 5 Maura Dooley
The 1815 Overture 6 Philip Gross
Smith 8 Matt Merritt
The New Red Sandstone 11 Peter Robinson
Complex 13 John Greening
strata 15 Mario Petrucci
From a Chalkface 17 Anthony Wilson
Mappa sub-Mundi 18 Alyson Hallett
Lithologies / Mythologies 19 Andy Brown
Allegory of the Navigation Canal 21 James Brookes
Conversation 22 Isabel Galleymore
Strata Smith 23 John Freeman
greensand and gault: a portrait of the young palaeontologist 24 Elizabeth Cook
The Drainage Engineer 26 Alison Brackenbury
William Smith's Poem 29 Jonathan Davidson
My Brilliant Career 30 John Freeman
Classical Bust of William Smith in Oxford University Museum 31 James Brookes
Clever and Capable Men 32 David M. Orchard
Mapping on Tilberthwaite Fells 33 Barbara Cumbers
Shades of Hades 34 John Freeman
Beachcombing 35 Peter Robinson
Itinerary 36 John Wedgwood Clarke
Red Rock 44 Alan Buckley
The only proper way to go on a fossil hunt is in a minibus 46 Ailsa Holland
Ammonites 47 Alyson Hallett
To Make a Map Look Old 48 Penelope Shuttle
Geological Survey 50 Stephen Boyce
chroma : mapping 51 Alyson Hallett
Greensand Ridge 52 James Brookes
Parchment Scalpel Rock: Stratigraphical Economics 53 George Ttoouli
Whole 58 Helen Mort
Pathways 60 Sally Flint
1815 61 John Greening
The Chalk Hills of Surry and Kent 62 Peter Carpenter
The Mud Pump 64 John McAuliffe
Sequence 66 Isabel Galleymore
To read a history in the Earth 67 Kate Potts
A Fold in the Map 69 Stephen Boyce
Smith the Poet 71 John Freeman
The Afterlife of William Smith 72 Andrew Motion
On Discovery 74 Jane Commane
The Painted Soil 76 Isobel Dixon
Map 78 Penelope Shuttle

Notes on Contributors

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Contributions by:
- Stephen Boyce
- Alison Brackenbury
- James Brookes
- Andy Brown
- Alan Buckley
- Peter Carpenter
- John Wedgwood Clarke
- Jane Commane
- Elizabeth Cook
- Barbara Cumbers
- Jonathan Davidson
- Isobel Dixon
- Maura Dooley
- Sally Flint
-  John Freeman
- Isabel Galleymore
- John Greening
- Philip Gross
- Alyson Hallett
- Ailsa Holland
- John McAuliffe
- Matt Merritt
- Helen Mort
- Andrew Motion
- David M. Orchard
- Mario Petrucci
- Kate Potts
- Peter Robinson
-  Penelope Shuttle
- George Ttoouli
- Anthony Wilson

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