Poetry Please Special: Edge
'Edge' is an extraordinary new poem that brings together two major talents in a confluence of science and art. The poem is a journey through space, in words by Katrina Porteous, and music for computer by the pioneering composer Peter Zinovieff. It was recorded, live, in front of an audience in the planetarium at the Centre for Life in Newcastle during this year's British Science Festival.
'Edge' visits four moons, each representing one of the primary elements: Water, Fire, Earth and Air. They are Jupiter's fiery moon Io; two of Saturn's moons, icy Enceladus and methane-rich Titan, which could possibly host primitive life. The fourth is Earth's own Moon, that witness to life on Earth.
The poem is performed by Katrina Porteous and the actor David Seddon. It draws on a range of dramatic voices - whispers, chants and incantations. Peter Zinovieff's music incorporates sounds collected from space - from Sputnik, the Apollo and Voyager missions, and the landing of the Cassini-Huygens probe on Titan.
'Edge' follows a tidal structure, visiting and revisiting each 'world', exploring the relation between chaos and cosmos. Along the way, we pick up clues to the possibility of the first stirrings of life, and finally, from Earth's Moon, we catch sight of our own planet, distinguished by the emergence not only of life but of consciousness and imagination.
'Out of the stuff of stars -
Gas, dust, ice -
Someone is painstakingly
Threading a necklace.'
Extract II (Saturn's moon, Titan)
At the Centre for Life 'Edge' was accompanied by a sequence of images of the moons and the cosmos beyond compiled by planetarium supervisor Christopher Hudson. This will be streamed on the Radio 4 website as 'Edge' is broadcast.
Producer: Julian May.