Woolly quantum poetry
I love the BBC:
A North East writer has been given a grant of £2,000 to use sheep to create random poems, which also utilise the deepest workings of the universe.
The money has been provided by Northern Arts for Valerie Laws to create a new form of “random” literature.
Each of the animals has a word from a poem written on their backs and as they wander about the words take a new poetic form each time they come to rest.
But the exercise is not just an attempt to create living poems, it is also, according to the poet, an exercise in quantum mechanics.
The animals being sprayed belong to farmer Donald Slater of Whitehouse Farm Centre, Morpeth, in Northumberland.
Mrs Laws, 48, said: “I like the idea of using living sheep to create a living poem, and creating new work as they move around.
“Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics which a lot of people find hard to understand, as it seems to go against common sense.
“Randomness and uncertainty is at the centre of how the universe is put together, and is quite difficult for us as humans who rely on order.
“So I decided to explore randomness and some of the principles of quantum mechanics, through poetry, using the medium of sheep.”
Mrs Laws created a poem for the project, based on the traditional Japanese haiku form of poetry.
Each sheep had a word from the poem sprayed on their back, and when they came to rest a new text was created.
Farmer Donald Slater said: “After last year’s devastation (of foot-and-mouth) we all needed cheering up and this might just do it.”
A spokesman for Northern Arts called the scheme “an exciting fusion of poetry and quantum physics”.
One of the poems created by the sheep reads:
Warm drift, graze gentle, White below the sky, Soft sheep, mirrors, Snow clouds.
Quoted here in its entirety, because I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out. (In the strange event that anyone feels moved to point it out, no, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot that’s quantum here.)