Stem Cell Writing Competition

27 Jun

Alright stem cell buddy!?

Hi-five stem cell hen, where are you heading today?

Me, och, I was thinking heart… it’s been on my heart for a while

I dinnae ken but I’ve been dreaming of toe nails, wee ones at that. So I guess that’s where I’m bound

Good luck wee toenail..

Take heart hen!

And that happens. No really. Every little stem cell in your body has the full instruction manual for every bit of you. What’s more they all somehow perfectly decide between them to go and do and be every bit of you.

A wee ridiculous miracle in every cell. Your body is bursting with tiny miracles. I like to think they have the same accent as you, they are regional miracles.

So that’s how I would describe stem cells but I reckon you could do a much better job (YES I hear you cry). Well (drum roll) there’s only a competition for that!

Euro Stem Cell are running their first non fiction writing competition with three categories:

  • Imaginative science writing
  • Non-fiction poetry
  • Graphic non-fiction

You can read more about it on their website but don’t delay. The deadline is 30th June. Just to let you know I’m on the judging panel – I’m not quite sure how I managed that since folks like Rodger Highfield and Ken MacLeod are on there but heyho, I’m judging the non fiction poetry.

Creative Nonfiction For Science

If you were wondering what creative nonfiction writing is, I hear it’s the fastest growing new genre of writing. So soon enough I’m sure you will hear a lot more about it. I was co-facilitating a training course on ‘Nonfiction for Science – Imaginative Approaches to Science Writing’ at the Roslin Institute earlier this year. Here we are on the coffee break, that’s Barbara Melville on the left and me on the right (it had to be done!)


One of my favourite parts of the course was meeting everyone. I set people the task of creating a pie-ku to introduce themselves and say why they’re on the course (it’s like a haiku but the syllables are 3,1,4)




Science and Art

And after each person performed their pi-ku they went on to explain a bit about their current research and science communication experience. One woman was making glowing chickens. As she explained her work I casually said something like

“wow, so I guess for your public engagement you can just turn up with a chicken and turn our the lights?”

The answer was “No the chickens are far too valuable and precious to take out of the lab”

And someone else added “The embryos are quite portable though?”

Yep! I was running a training course with a bunch of geniuses. Another person was creating a synthetic carbon capture system. As we were chatting about applications I realised this would solve all climate change problems..

“Yes, if it worked it would be amazing!” she said enthusiastically.

So yeah, it was a fun day with twenty amazing academics. I loved working with the group and with my co-facillitator and course creator Barbara Melville. Barbara is an expert in creative writing for nonfiction and she’s the Writer in Residence at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Check out the Euro Stem Cell Competition online. The competition hashtag is #stemcellcomp (find EuroStemCell on Twitter), You can also find EurostemCell on Facebook.


Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Education, poetry, Science, storytelling, Writing


Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Stem Cell Writing Competition

  1. belledelettres

    June 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    pi-ku! What fun!


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