Arthur Stewart was born in Michigan City, Indiana, living in what is now the Indiana Dunes National Park. He also spent time in Arizona, studying biology and chemistry at Northern Arizona University. Later, after a stint in the Peace Corps, he earned his PhD in aquatic ecology at Michigan State University. He did postdoctoral research on the toxicity of coal oil and shale oil at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), then taught and learned about stream ecology at the University of Oklahoma, then went back to ORNL as an ecotoxicologist, group leader and senior scientist. To pursue his interests in improving science education, Art earned a MS Ed at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
As a project manager for Oak Ridge Associated Universities, he has worked with several multifaceted science education projects, including the Tennessee Science Bowl, the Appalachian Regional Commission – ORNL Math-Science-Technology Summer Institute, and the Department of Energy‘s ORNL Academies Creating Teacher Scientists program. He now manages the Advanced Short-Term Research Opportunity program for Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Postdoctoral Program for the Department of Energy’s Savannah River National Laboratory. He lives in Lenoir City, not far from the hubbub of Knoxville.
From Where We Came
Coming in March 2015. Reaching deep into compelling examples from human history, and the history of our natural world, Stewart delivers carefully crafted meditations that seamlessly braid fact, loss, longing, and imagination.
The Ghost in the Word
The theme of The Ghost in the Word is simple: we all deal with ambiguity in our lives, every day – but we tend to forget that ambiguity is a key component and driving force both in science and in poetry. This idea extends Stewart’s notion in the value of cross-disciplinary approaches for STEM teaching.
Circle, Turtle, Ashes
This third collection of forty-six poems and two essays leads the reader through a gnarly wood of learning and teaching science.
Bushido: The Virtues of Rei and Makoto
This second collection of essays and poems by Arthur Stewart has a single theme – respect and care for life.
Rough Ascension and Other Poems of Science
In this debut collection of fifty-two poems, scientist Arthur Stewart tries to nudge art and science a little closer by offering something tangible, something closer to the heart.
“…Stewart delivers carefully crafted meditations that seamlessly braid fact, loss, longing, and imagination…The armchair time-traveler and lab-bench scientist alike will be richly rewarded by even a casual walk through Stewart’s territory…” – Nicholas D. Pyenson, Curator, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
“Science and poetry don’t usually talk to each other, even though they share many topics. Art Stewart’s elegant verses transcend that divide.” – Professor Rick Shine, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia.
“Readers can trust this poet and this book to encourage them, and even to guide them, in their own quests to understand the ever-changing, and often overwhelming, ambiguities of our individual and collective human experience.” – Ted Olson, Professor, Appalachian Studies, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee.
“Stewart’s best poetry yet! The Ghost in the Word offers a glimpse of the world through brief moments in time, people and places-a meaningful respite from our efforts to be enduring.” – Mike Mueller, Associate Professor of Education, University of Alaska, Anchorage
“Stewart’s reflective poems are tools to help all of us revel in the power of ambiguity in science, rather than shy away from it.” – Dr. John Niedzweicki, Biology Department, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee.
Recently I sensed
a low-intensity, upper-
level disturbance: a weak perturbation,
a ripple, a small upset,
a nuanced quirk, a tiny odd-ball
non-typical mismatch: in
short, a dinkle.
just how big things sometimes start – one
Back to Task
When the call came I was driving: I fished out
cell phone from pocket to learn
the number, something higher
than I had hoped for. What a loss
shall I become
to myself if a loss
to nothing else. So much
I’ve tried to do, so much
I’ve tried to get done even as
at home the Yoshino cherry has burst
to bloom and now, the morning after and yet before
Easter morning which I love,
the spring rain touches perfectly
the heads of the hyacinths, the bowed
shoulders of the peony blossoms hunched pink over
watching water spilling from sepals and
there is no perspective more perfect
than the I looking out,
though the peep-hole be small. To what
depth do we each extend,
by tendril or trunk, and to what aim? Such
questions are so far
beyond science, with its crystal lens and
edgy rules – even the negative
there has value: for example, reported today,
closing a hole in the heart is no better
than drugs in preventing stroke. And thankfully
in that domain one can always
leap sideways, plunge ahead to
safe unknown or fall to whimsy:
a new species of leopard frog, for example,
with its center of home range in
Yankee Stadium, the Bronx. But now
back to task:
re-toughen the self
to reality, who cares
to which axis of this multiplexed and
multi-variegated image of self
such effort pertains.
It Is So Easy
It is so easy to forget
connects to another, item one
touches item three, two
there on the left,
far out, in direct contact
with item six and when
one moves, five moves, sometimes
quick enough such that
the touch is evident and sometimes not
without a special look. And yet
the dipping buds of the Easter Lily in its pot
out back where the morning sun strikes first
tells a story of the story – did you know
it came originally from Japan and now comes
almost certainly from the Pacific Coast
having started three years ago and,
unfinished like that, prepare to recognize
it for what it is – a project: read
into it what you will, the mo-
lecular basis of what we need
day after day just to keep going:
virtue, innocence, hope and life. Consider
the lilies of the field, how they grow:
they toil not and do not spin and yet
like us, unfinished, end.
What I’m About
According to Bukowski it’s easy to slip
into the comfort of writing
clever poems devoid
of real emotion and guts,
and filling magazines with them,
making the magazines dull, pretentious and
sure, that happens. But life’s
slippery as a salamander – a wet knife
goes in, comes out clean and
every day we get tangled in stupid little
situations, clogs, tie-ups, emotional
where the three sides are
each different though the sum
of the interior angles, yes,
must be 180
degrees, so screw
his idea, maybe my work is clever but dull or
devoid of emotion and guts but
I work hard to get these little things
just where I want them: centered
on something that matters
difficult to slide
far from the self but that’s
what needs to happen: that, then
turn back fast to look and if lucky see
pixilation – the tiny bits of light each
smaller than a dot, each too small to be any-
thing individually but together making
the picture whole. Like that: beads
threaded on a string of time and
time pixilated too, think about
it, it’s really nuts: all this
empty space and we try
so hard to fit every-
The Student Almost Glows
He’s a rising junior.
The university name eludes me now.
He tells me his mentor is
like a god,
sending him for work done well,
to the American Geophysical Union’s meeting,
two months from now in California where
he has family.
How much these things count, you can tell.
He might even give an oral presentation
of his summer’s work, but that’s still
up in the air.
Around a delicate smile,
he doesn’t look at me, quite.
He looks slightly down,
in his head,
letting them run
seeking the future.
Scant matters much: we’ve both changed,
we’ve kept the same
small habits, scoring them deeper
in their tracks; we put down
mulch, dug holes
for plants and, when necessary,
for pets and watered them with tears
and we’ve done and done
those thousand household chores
that never finish: dishes, laundry,
even the tops of books crammed tight in shelves.
from here on out? Professionally
past prime, I can try to teach
some things I’ve learned, I can try
to love you more.