New SciPo publication: A Hatchery of Shadows: Poems about Plants, Brain and Imagination

‘I have read this anthology three times, with immense pleasure. Each reading has uncovered new meanings, new levels of enjoyment in the resources of free verse, handled with exceptional skill here by a bunch of fine poets. The anthology’s central themes — plants, the brain and imagination — are interwoven in a delightfully varied but unified verbal dance. The anthology is testimony to the unending capacity of the natural world to elicit wonder, curiosity, puzzlement and imaginative exploration.’ Lucy Newlyn, Poet and Emeritus Fellow in English



It has been a great privilege to once again edit the SciPo poetry anthology, now the second in the series. Our beautiful new publication, A Hatchery of Shadows: Poems about Plants, Brain and Imagination, continues some of the themes of anthropogenic climate change explored last year, but also pushes outwards to explore the shadowy and exciting connections between plants, brain and imagination in poetry.


The anthology includes winning and commended poems from both the adult and the under-18 SciPo poetry competitions of 2019, as well as poems from the organisers of SciPo. There are thoughtful and complex contributions from participants in SciPo 2019 poetry workshops held in collaboration with Wytham Woods, the Oxford Botanic Garden and the Oxford Museum of Natural History, and from Penny Boxall and Romola Parish who co-ran them. Finally, we were thrilled to include poems by SciPo 2019 guest poets, Frances Leviston and Adam Horovitz, and a cover illustration by Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science at the Oxford Botanic Garden. Adam Horovitz did a beautiful job with the design and typesetting, and I’m thrilled to be able to present the full list of poems in the anthology here:


Pollen by Romola Parish

Buddleia by Margot Myers

The Innocence of Trees by Susan Utting

I See Thee Better by Frances Leviston

Silver Birch (Betula pendula) by Jules Whiting

Ginkgo Biloba by Sarah Ying Bai (白滢)

Plants Can Ruin Your Life by Amna Thara

Elixir by Rosemary Appleton

Cactus House by Dorothy Yamamoto

Nodule by Inge Milfull

Mind Maps by Sarah Watkinson

Instructions for Making a Tree by Sue Wood

Silver Oak by Jenny Lewis

I Used to Walk Through London by Adam Horovitz

Intent on Purple by Stephen Paul Wren

Samphire by Beth McDonough

Atomised: Endless Possibilities by Denni Turp

Swimming in Winter by Elsa Hammond

The Pinecone by Miranda Lynn Barnes

Nereum Oleander by Isaiah Ambssa Robinson-Lewis

Small-Mouthed Beardless-Moss by Penny Boxall




To purchase copies of the anthology (£6 + P&P), or the whole SciPo trilogy (£15 + P&P) please contact



 - Elsa Hammond is co-organiser of the SciPo2020 New Network, and is a Lecturer in English at St Hilda’s College. She is also an award-winning travel writer and a poet. 





Painting showing foliage with a wet look