Mark Metcalf

The Darwin Poems

By - Aug 19th, 2010 04:00 am
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In the late 1990s, poet, screenwriter and Milwaukee native Emily Ballou followed her heart (and, well, a boy) to Australia and hasn’t been back since. “I seem to adopt countries…and the men who inhabit them,” she says jokingly.

While living near Australia’s Blue Mountains, a freshly transplanted Ballou would frequent the “Darwin Walk,” a 6 kilometer hike through Wentworth Falls that a young Darwin had famously strolled on several occasions.

“I started thinking, ‘who was this young man, on this walk, 150 years before me?'” she says. And that’s where the inspiration for The Darwin Poems was born. Ballou would spend the next five years exploring the mysterious life of the beloved naturalist, buried in prolific notebooks and sketchpads in order to create this beautiful and at times haunting portrait, written in the voice of Darwin himself.

In this week’s podcast, Emily reads her poem “Darwin’s Noah” and she and Mark discuss the process of navigating through the Darwin archives and how falling in love with and injecting ourselves into the characters we create is inevitable to the writing process.

Listen now:

Read more of Emily Ballou’s amazing work here. Subscribe to Backstage with Mark Metcalf through iTunes here.

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