Gordon in the News: last updated 03/21/2011

Poetic Combustion! Chemistry and English Departments Collaborate on Celebration of Letters and Words

October 8, 2009
Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA—Call it a poetry slam of chemical proportions. To celebrate the National Day on Writing as well as National Chemistry Week, Gordon’s english and chemistry departments have joined forces to host a first of its kind event.

“Of Poetry and Periodic Tables: A Celebration of Words and Letters”—an open mic public reading--will take place on Tuesday, October 20, the official National Day on Writing sponsored by the National Council for Teachers of English. The chemistry department is also sponsoring its first ever essay contest using only symbols from the periodic table to coincide with the theme for this year’s National Chemistry Week (October 19–23), which focuses on the 140th anniversary of Mendeleev’s periodic table. Students and faculty from both departments will read their original essays and poems during the café-style salon, which will be held in the second floor student lounge of the Ken Olsen Science Center from 4:30–6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“We wanted to invite the entire community to participate in both events in an unusual way,” said Irv Levy, professor of chemistry and computer science. “Our essay contest—which can use only the symbols of the 112 named elements in the periodic table plus D (deuterium) and T (tritium)—gives writers an opportunity to compose something that’s entertaining, amusing, profound, and probably pretty challenging. Oh, and the letters must be in their PrOPEr CaSe.”

Levy said if a writer entering the contest gets “writer’s block,” he or she can look to the Exhaustive Chemical Words Pages online at www.tinyurl.com/2n5lv5, which provides  a list of over 26,000 words spelled with chemical symbols. Prizes for the contest—which will be announced at the October 20th slam—include a periodic table throw blanket for first place and a periodic table puzzle for second place.

Student writing mentors from Gordon’s Writing Center will convert the lounge into a salon-café with tables, coffee and baked goods, and will also be hosting various readings throughout the day to honor the National Day on Writing. Many students from Gordon’s Great Conversations courses will be invited to read essays they’ve recently written around the theme, “This I Believe." English students will also be invited to recite poems or short essays during the slam they’ve been working on throughout the semester.

“There are some enormously creative writers in our English and chemistry classes,” said Andrea Frankwtiz, associate professor and chair of the English department. “This combined salon allows them to showcase their work in a way that also introduces them to students’ works they might not always hear. Who knows what creative possibilities could be ignited from such a gathering?”


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on
Boston's North Shore. The College offers majors in 37 fields and has
graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in
Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in
academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize
Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.




periodic table