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Anne Osbourn ordering her life and origins as a scientist through poetry

02.02.2021 11:42

Do poetry and science mix well? The answer is a resounding “yes!” – at least in the case of Branco Weiss Alumna Anne Osbourn. Mock Orange is a collection of poems in which Anne Osbourn attempts to order her life and her origins and to try to understand how and why she became a scientist, specifically a plant biologist. From early childhood she has tried to make sense of the world through plants. In mid-eighteenth-century Sweden Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, spent his life trying to understand his Maker through the classification of plants. Osbourn’s poetry encompasses Linnaeus’s adventures and experiences and his fascination with living things. Mock Orange is therefore about journeys from origins, both personal and global, in which negotiations between scientific and non-scientific languages and points of view form a central theme.


Osbourn started writing poetry in 2004 when she was awarded a National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) Dream Time Fellowship to spend a year on sabbatical in the School of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Her poems have been published both in poetry magazines and international science journals. She holds an honorary professorship at UEA, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was awarded an OBE in January 2020. Today, Osbourn is a group leader in the Department of Metabolic Biology at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. She is also the founder of the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) Trust, which uses science as a meeting place for interdisciplinary adventures.

Mock Orange was published by SPM Publications.

Read more about Mock Orange on the publisher’s website

See the Science, Art and Writing Trust’s website