Pnina Shinebourne
Radioactive

May 2013. 24 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-38-1 (= PSPS 7)
£3.50 (+ 1.00 p&p), €4.50 (+ 1.00 p&p), US$ 6.00 (+ 1.50 p&p)
 
"Shinebourne tells the human story behind the discovery of radioactivity. She explores the interior thoughts, the intellectual conflicts and the joys of scientific revelation. The style is clipped, heady, energised and supple in its response to the hectic demands of the protagonists, and the language is simple and immediate in the way it handles complex scientific ideas. Shinebourne captivates us by revealing the psychological pressures that give birth to the creative process and for this alone the pamphlet is a compelling read from start to end!"

Daljit Nagra

"Pnina Shinebourne can rewind a love to its beginnings, pulling us through a storm of fact, emotion and discovery, taking us from the Dreyfus Affair to the Manhattan Project via radium glowing in a lecture theatre in Piccadilly. There is leaking and decay, but also refining and regeneration. She evokes the daily perils of science: 'repeat distill revise // months of labour / and nothing' which might also apply to the writing of poems. She can also bring the physical and emotional together so that they are more than a pair, evoking a past so fresh it seems to be happening right now, right here."
Peter Kravitz


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Excerpts from Radioactive

Magnetism

A wedding gift - two bicycles
thousands of pedal strokes
through fishing villages

reaches of heather and gorse
on the coast of Brittany,
cheeses and bread

peaches and cherries; on a pond-
edge they explore the heat
of magnetic attraction
as their bodies draw closer.

Fireflies

A Friday evening:
congestion in Piccadilly.
A packed lecture theatre.
Suspense. Lights dimmed.
Pierre and Marie Curie
distinguished guests
of the Royal Institution
demonstrate the magic
of newly discovered radium.
A journalist reports:
I saw an image of the radium
transmitted through thick
layers of paper. I saw quite
plainly a green-blue light glowing.

Hands unsteady, Pierre rolls
up his sleeve, his arm livid red
unaware of the invisible fireflies
hibernating in the luminescence
that will come to gnaw at their flesh.


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