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Darwin's Microscope

by Kelley Swain

Science and poetry cross paths in this tenth-anniversary edition, now featuring twenty pages of new work.

While stocks last, we are selling exclusive limited-edition copies without the author's name on the cover, as pictured here. Just eighteen available.

Darwin’s Microscope
, Swain’s debut volume of poetry, was first published in 2009 by Flambard Press. It is now in a tenth-anniversary volume from Valley Press, to celebrate the song cycle Endless Forms Most Beautiful, composed by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, of which a selection of the poems comprises a significant part. In the decade since her first publication, Swain has continued to inhabit the liminal space between science and poetry, working as a celebrated poet and art critic specialising in both ecological and medical topics, including a year as one of the first three poets-in-residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

With a section of new poems, Moult, exclusive cover art by artist Katherine Child, and an introduction by Luz Mar González-Arias, this edition gives readers the opportunity to revisit Swain’s debut collection in the context of international debates on the current geological era, the Anthropocene, characterised by overwhelming evidence on climate change. With demonstrations of ecological grief taking place worldwide, there is now an urgency to search for reciprocal ways of relating to our environment. Darwin’s Microscope contributes to the search from the vantage point of experiencing two worlds at the same time: in other words, by inhabiting the space where magic happens.

‘With quiet authority, these poems situate our lives in the geological and biological unfolding of the ages. The ability to combine scientific with poetic forms of knowledge is precious and rare, and Kelley Swain possesses it in abundance.’ – Ann Fisher-Wirth


Kelley Swain was born in Rhode Island, 1985, and is now based in Oxfordshire, working as a writer, editor and educator in poetry, science and the medical humanities.

In 2013, Kelley worked with seven poets and one illustrator to create the anthology Pocket Horizon, which was launched in October of that year at the Science Museum, London. Kelley's verse drama set in 18th-century Florence, Opera di Cera, was published in March 2014.

Kelley's memoir of her years working as a life model, The Naked Muse, was published by Valley Press in May 2016. That year also saw Kelley contributing to the VP anthology Guests of Time, after a residency at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Her first collection of poetry was Darwin’s Microscope, originally published by Flambard Press in 2009, but re-released in a revised and expanded tenth-anniversary edition by Valley Press in 2019.


Edition: Second, revised and expanded

Date Published: 2019-10-02

ISBN: 9781912436262

Catalogue Number: VP0146

Number of Pages: 106

Cover illustration by Katherine Child

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