LANGUAGE: THE KEY TO OUR PAST AND PRESENT...

By Eileen Chen Photo courtesy of Pille Bunnell *Permission to reprint granted by the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society What does an intersection between poetry and science mean? Does it relate to poems that talk about science or scientists that speak in verse? These were the questions that plagued me when I was preparing an interview with Dr. Pille Bunnell – an ecologist and cyberneticist – to discuss the topic of integrating poetry and science, as well as her experiences and fields of study. Before diving into discussions of what systems ecology and cybernetics are, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Bunnell relate a beautifully personal tale. In the year 2002, Dr. Bunnell attended a course at the University of Tartu during a visit to her mother country, Estonia, which she left as a refugee when only eight months old. There, she joined a field trip to an ancient raised bog, where the peat moss had built up several meters above the surrounding area. It was a chilly November day, with a smatter of snow on the ground. After receiving a bog-walking lesson, she had a chance to explore the ancient landscape herself. Pausing to look around, she was suddenly overcome with a striking sense of awe and familiarity: “I am home!” The emotional intensity of this experience was evident, even when retelling her story. After long reflection on that impactful experience, Dr. Bunnell came to the conclusion that language links people with their ancestry through its connection with the land. I was surprised to see language brought into the equation like this, but through Dr. Bunnell’s explanation of how the grammar, intonation, and flow of language arises from how people relate within the landscapes they live in, I eventually became convinced. To apply...