In Australia, poetry related to scientific topics (‘science poetry’) is an emerging subgenre of writing. While poet Carol Jenkins has previously described the demographics of contemporary Australian poetry in the literature, no known quantitative research studies have focused on contemporary Australian science poetry. Therefore, our novel study aims to describe the demographics and characteristics of contemporary Australian science poetry. After independently reviewing twelve poetry or science writing anthologies to identify science poems, we jointly selected pieces for data collection. Categorical data on poem and poet characteristics were collected, with proportions in categories expressed as percentages and residential state/territory figures re-expressed per million population. The number of poets with science rather than non-science poems anthologised was statistically compared between genders using a chi-square test, with a p-value<0.05 denoting statistical significance. Across the anthologies, 100 science poems by 73 poets were identified. The most common poetry type and scientific discipline were free verse (93%) and biology (30%), respectively. Poets mostly used science to explore ideas of humanity and death. They were mainly female (55%) NSW residents (41%) with no formal science background (75%). The ACT had the most poets per million population (15). Women were significantly more likely to have science poems anthologised compared with non-science poems. Overall, our study of contemporary Australian science poetry provides a picture of an interdisciplinary genre and suggests avenues for future exploration.
Keywords: Australian poetry; science; creativity; interdisciplinary; demographics