Poet's corner in posterity

12th January 2007 at 00:00
Michael Rosen is donating his body to science

FIRST HE sold his soul to science. Now poet Michael Rosen is donating his body. Since the Association for Science Education commissioned his poetic talent in 2000, Rosen's odes to oceanography and verses about volcanology have helped to enthuse thousands of primary science pupils.

This week he is demonstrating his commitment to science in the most final way - by signing his 60-year-old body over to medical research. "I was a medical student and I cut up bodies, so it seemed only fair to put my body where my mouth is," he told The TES.

He said that the London Anatomy Office allowed for the exclusion of bodies with certain illnesses, or those too tall or too fat.

"They're not very keen if you've had an amputation, because you'd be a bit short, wouldn't you," he said. "I would hope that my body will be sufficiently normal and ordinary to be applicable for researching all conditions."

The scientists will have plenty to dissect. At 6ft 2in Rosen's gangly frame with its wispy ginger beard is reminiscent of one the stick-like Quentin Blake characters who illustrate many of his books.

Presenting the AstraZenecaTES primary science awards in Birmingham last week, Rosen dismissed the age-old distinctions between the sciences and arts. As a child he had written up a science experiment with the words, "one of the exciting results was". His teacher put a red line through the word "exciting", saying: "There's no need to get excited in science."

But Rosen argued that imagination was as important in science as it was in the arts. "There has to be an imaginative leap to conceive of something for the first time." He explained afterwards that he was interested in anything to do with experiments, investigation or discovery, whether artistic or scientific.

"If children are enthusing about discovering something about snails or frogs, then I'm as enthusiastic about that as about a child recounting a nightmare."


When people tell me

there's bugs in rugs

there's bugs in jugs

there's bugs in plugs

there's bugs in mugs

and there's bugs in slugs

I just shrugs.

Michael Rosen,

From 'Centrally Heated Knickers', Puffin, 2000

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