I had the absolute pleasure of reading my poetry at the Battersea Arts Festival with Heaux Noire in April at the Battersea Arts Centre, which was filmed by the British Library. This was truly a night of love, warmth, and healing: surrounded by friends in a beautiful venue; new friends made; wonderful, soul-warming art enjoyed. I’m humbled by the imagination, creativity, and artistry of the other artists who performed that evening (image credit: Myah Jeffers/Heaux Noire).
I’ve recently had five new poems published in the Caribbean folio of Anomaly’s 28th issue by Anomalous Press. These poems are part of what will be my next book and I’m honored they’ve found such a home!
In March, I revisited one of my favorite events, the Women in Physics London Conference hosted by Kings College London, as an invited panelist. This was such a special day and I look forward to attending again! You can watch the panel here.
I also gave a talk for the Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) seminar series at UCL. I’ve uploaded my visualizations of my 3D datasets of Gale Crater, Mars, which I demonstrated in this talk, here.
On the composition front, I’ve recently made a short electro-acoustics piece called ‘magnetopause’ using NASA THEMIS data simulating what Earth’s magnetopause sounds like, recordings from MSSL, and cello recordings old and new:
I’m also continuing work on new music with Najia Khaled as we formulate a new chamber pop album. You can preview some of our demos on Soundcloud x
It’s been a quiet first few months of 2019, but still exciting for me. In January I read my poetry at Rutland Arms in London as part of a global tour hosted by Global Poets Corner. This leg of the tour was called “Your Place in the World” and had a number of fantastic poets reading their work, and included two panels on which we discussed our writing process, our “place,” and what poetry means for us, especially as writers of color. This was a warming experience and I’m looking forward to what our hosts produce next. You can listen to my set below:
At the end of February I gave a lecture as part of the fabulous UCL Horizons program. My talk engaged topics in ethics in space exploration – from international space law, to morality among astronauts living on Mars – and, as always, I learned a lot from the students.
Finally, earlier in March I participated in the final sols of the second ExoFit rover field trial, once again on the PanCam team, processing images and interfacing with the operations team to plan data acquisitions. This time the rover was in the Atacama desert in preparation for a Mars environment – you can read more about the field trial here.
- Tomorrow I’m giving a talk on my work producing and visualizing 3D orbital imagery of Gale Crater, Mars, at the Centre for Planetary Science’s Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) seminar series at UCL (information here)
- I’m returning to the Womxn in Physics London Conference this year as an invited panelist – I’ll be discussing issues in equity in the physical sciences on March 30 at Kings College London! Tickets are free.
- On April 12 I will be reading poetry with the poetry/arts group Heaux Noire as part of the Homegrown Festival in Battersea. Get your tickets here!
It’s been a busy spring and I’ve been neglecting my updates!
In music — I had my electro-acoustics piece “Godspeed, John Glenn” at The Art of Planetary Science 2018 show at UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in February (in absentia). The piece is a bonus track of THEY WILL BE FREE and is an homage to John Glenn’s legacy, and I’m really glad to have shared this piece at such a wonderful event! You can listen to the track here. Najia Khaled and I are working on new music for our chamber-pop duo, as well – here’s a preview of “The Best of It.” After a few months’ break, I’m also starting to get back into setting my poetry; listen to “Alpha Lyrae” here.
I am blessed to have been interviewed about my upcoming book do not perform this by my wonderful uncle-cousin Rajiv Mohabir in Jacket2 as part of his landmark series on “Coolitude Poetics” – read the interview here. Additionally, I had a poem called “astronomy” published on The Aerogram for World Poetry Day, and have a new poem, “crime and science,” in the sixth issue of The Deaf Poets Society in conjunction with the Split the Rock Festival, at which I was honored to read a few poems via Skype. Another new poem of mine will be in this summer’s issue of Trascender Magazine. These poems are part of a new manuscript, house of mud, that I hope to share with you soon!
In outreach and public engagement, several UCL students and I successfully ran the Sutton Scholars “Mission to Mars” event in February for ~120 young students. I was also very honored to have been invited to speak at the Women in Physics London 2018 Conference at Kings College London on March 10th – read more about the event here – and demonstrate rock fluorescence for kids at UCL’s International Day of Light celebration this month. Sharing aspects of earth and space science with children is always extremely rewarding, as I find it a two-way learning experience about our place in the solar system and what it means to relate to and study physics.
In this vein, I wrote a short reflection on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch for a great article by Emily Lakdawalla (The Planetary Society), “Talking About The Tesla,” on the AAS Women in Astronomy Blog in February. Finally, I’ve recently recorded an interview about my work for an episode of the spectacular podcast, Superwomen in Science, which will be out soon – this was a great conversation about the ways we define science vs. art, especially with regards to science communications.
In April I spent a week Vienna to participate in a 3D visualization workshop for planetary terrain and the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting; last week I presented at the ExoMars PanCam science team meeting and in the next month will also present at the Centre for Planetary Sciences meeting at MSSL – it’s been an extremely chaotic but rewarding spring! You can find ongoing updates from my group here on Twitter. x
- Fellow poet and dear friend Najia has released an audiobook of wanderers, witch-talkers – also find the text version for sale here!
- Another talented friend, Jordan Putt, recently released a reflective and warm EP called “Honest to God” (also available on Spotify).
- My friends are so talented!! Mary Ma’s poetry premiere, “windows, mirrors” is available here! I’m counting the minutes until my copy arrives.
- Emily Lakdawalla’s new book, “The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job,” is out now! I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited to get my hands on a copy.
- As mentioned above, Superwomen in Science is a fantastic podcast – listen to their most recent episode here, featuring the admirable and mega-cool entomologist Meghan Barrett.
In lieu of a short update for December, I wanted to take a look at this past year, which has seen me grow immensely as both an artist and a scientist, and to share the products of some of these endeavors with you.
Tonight, I’m heading to the Lit Exhibit – a literary gallery in Brooklyn curated and hosted by the ever-pioneering Lana C. Marilyn! I will have a poetry installation/performance piece called ‘write me a letter,’ which challenges the dichotomy of strangeness vs. intimacy. I’m so excited to be part of such a unique space, and I will definitely post updates about the event here.
I’m still working on my “140 pieces in 140 days” challenge. I’m a little behind, but I’ve just reached #75 with “Journeys” for voice and piano:
This piece is part of a recent set of “microsettings” of my shortest poems.
This spring has seen a lot of poetry-music hybrid projects for me, first with my “microsettings” and then “do not perform this,” in addition to a still-developing project as I’ve mentioned before. I’m hoping to announce this project soon!
Last: I’m so humbled to say that I will be starting a PhD in Space & Climate Physics this fall at University College London! I will continue to update on my travels and studies.
I spent a fantastic evening in Brooklyn earlier this month, sitting on a panel of other self-published women at a Book Swap Party hosted by friend and fellow writer Lana C. Marilyn. We spoke about theme, style, honesty, and process in everything from poetry and confessional writing to our personal lives.
Photo credit: Lana
I’ve challenged myself to write a piece (or complete movement, arrangement, etc.) every day from mid-January to mid-May, which will result in 140 pieces and hopefully expand my technique and voice. In this vein, I’ve begun work on 78 variations on a theme by Beethoven for woodblock (to follow up on a joke that I maintain is still quite funny) and a string quartet arrangement of Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, and I’m continuing my work on the Dream Palace pieces, the newest of which, ‘nuit,’ can be found here.
I’ve also started work on a cohesive project involving both my composition and poetry, about which I won’t give details quite yet. As a preview, however, listen to my tribute to John Glenn, “Godspeed, John Glenn”, an electronic piece which utilizes Mercury-Atlas 6 mission recordings and is based on Glenn’s heartbeat. Also read “On Living” by Nazim Hikmet.
My recommendations for the start of the year:
- My darling friend Najia Khaled has released “Dough Re Mi,” a fabulous “kitchen folk” EP that utilizes only kitchen implements and her lovely voice. Available to purchase and stream at the link.
- “strength,” an EP by disconnect red, also a dear friend, is an incandescent set of a capella songs that plays with mode with a startling rawness. Steam “fragility” here.
- The aforementioned Lana released her debut book, “Wet Sand in an Hourglass: a self portrait in words,” last year and I’ve been taking my time reading it. The book is a deliberate memoir, both intricate and exhilarating in its tone and narrative.
I have been collaborating with poet and friend Sanjana Rajagopal on musically illustrating her fantastic, otherworldly poem series ‘Dream Palace.’ The first four demos of these pieces can be found here with links to the original poems.
I recently wrote on my NASA Academy and honors thesis project for Madame Mars, a transmedia production documenting the role of women in space science, which interviewed me in 2014 (and quoted my interview on HuffPost). You can read the article here, and subscribe to their fantastic media here.
My uncle Rajiv Mohabir, a talented poet and teacher, writes on the liminality of Indo-Caribbean experiences and discusses several authors and poets, including myself, and how we relate to this heritage via our work in this blog post for the North American Review.
I’m working on a series of poetry zines with several artists. The first topic of this series is ‘the void’; read my take here.
Finally, all of my books are on sale for the holidays! Check out details here.
I’ve just given my final presentation at JPL and am wrapping up my internship in the next few days! I’m so grateful for all of the support and encouragement that helped me get to this point. I am proud of my work, and JPL is truly a special place to which I hope to return one day soon.
My books are now on Goodreads and I have an active author page! Reviews can now be left for each book, and I may begin updating the author page in the future.
Najia (with whom I performed at “THE THINGS WE CAN CONJURE”) and I are working on some music – check out this reduced electronic demo of “Talisman” and look forward to completed songs in the next few months. x
The Things We Can Conjure went wonderfully! We had a nice turnout, made new friends, and had a beautiful time sharing our work. We also both completed National Poetry Month strong with 30 poems each! Don’t forget to check out Najia’s beautiful book “Wanderers, Witch-Talkers.”
Last week (4.30), I presented my senior thesis – the geology portion of the 2015 NASA Academy Mars mission design – for the EES department and had my composition final “performed” – you can find the track here. The piece utilizes voice and cello recordings of myself, as well as recordings of planes from last summer. Completing my time with both the EES Department and the Eastman composition department has been a delight and I am so grateful for the resources to which I’ve had access during my time at Rochester.
I finished executing my project ‘i can’t hear myself’ for my anthropology course this week. The reaction has been so involved and wonderful, and I look forward to continuing to discuss the work and the social issues behind my ideas with other musicians.
At the end of this month, I’ll be heading off to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a summer research program in surface processes of icy moons, which is a thrilling way to end my undergraduate career!
Stay tuned – I’m hoping to start some new things in the next handful of weeks x
THE THINGS WE CAN CONJURE: a poetry celebration by me and Najia Khaled
This will be an afternoon of poetry to celebrate our recent book releases, ‘color’ and ‘wanderers, witch-talkers,’ with friends! We will also have copies of our work for purchase.
Wanderers, Witch-Talkers is a collection of poetry by Moroccan-American poet Najia Khaled. European and Moroccan witchcraft, folklore, superstition, and mythology are explored in poems about love, loss, culture, mental illness, and race.