If scientific instruments and objects – the early twentieth-century cloud camera or Herschel’s ‘comet sweeper’ telescope or Florence Nightingale’s diagram of hospital deaths or Freud’s couch – could have a dream life, the poems in Cloud Camera are an attempt to evoke it. The book inhabits an imagined, even a haunted, world of science and technology – there are poems that conjure anything from the first balloon flight made by a woman or the effect of experiments with laughing-gas, to how Braille was invented, when the first artificial plant hybrid was created and what the impact of static electricity on the human body looks like. The poetry both celebrates and laments the endless human curiosity to find out ‘what the terrestrial body can stand, / at what point the mind turns itself inside out.’
“There is nothing ‘clinical’ about these poems except their sharpness of vision and their ability not to flinch; they let us inside their subjects – scientific, medical, historical – with a disconcerting physicality. In poem after poem you meet rich and arcane knowledge with a sense of new discovery as well as recognition: fundamental human work is being done. Most of all, it is a book of delights, to be pounced on, read with appetite…” ~ Philip Gross
“Cloud Camera the most intelligent and thrilling book of poetry I’ve seen in several years” ~ Michael Hulse
Lesley Saunders is the author of several books and pamphlets of poetry, including Christina the Astonishing (with Jane Draycott and artist Peter Hay) and Her Leafy Eye (with artist Geoff Carr), both published by Two Rivers Press. Lesley’s work has been widely published in journals and anthologies, and has won major awards; she has held several poetry residencies, and is involved in various collaborations and commissions.
The poem Germ Theory from this collection: