Sara Henning combines science, poetry


Sara Henning’s heart had always belonged to three things: science, poetry and her cats.

During college, her passion for science and poetry divided her heart into two parts.

Desperate to hold onto both, Henning double majored in English and genetics with a focus on pre-med at the University of Georgia. It wasn’t until two years later in an introductory creative writing class that Henning realized she no longer desired to go to medical school.

“It’s clear that I have always struggled between my passion for the two fields, but poetry and English kept winning out,” Henning said.

Yet, the war inside Henning, with science on one side and poetry on the other, is far from over. That much was obvious at Henning’s poetry reading last Thursday night.

ULM’s English program and Beer & Bard’s hosted Henning in Hemphill Hall to read from her latest published poetry book, “View from True North.” In this volume of poetry, Henning discussed taboo topics like alcoholism, abuse and the negative effects of sexual repression on                 homosexual individuals.

The speaker in “View from True North” deals with the phases of life and death and understanding them. Through the speaker, we learn about her grandfather and the struggles he faced during a time where he wasn’t allowed to be himself.

Although it is suggested that the poems are based on Henning’s real life, she often reminded the audience that you cannot assume poetry is about the poet.

Henning’s interest in science did not disappear. She references scientific material all throughout “View from True North.” She uses scientific concepts to begin understanding things like trauma and pain.

For example, in her poem “The First Murmuration,” Henning writes about the strategic way starlings, a type of bird, flock in the thousands to explain that trauma can transfer through generations.

Anup Ghimire, senior computer science major, highly enjoyed the science mentioned throughout Henning’s poems. He said that it helped him view poetry and the world in a different way.

Ghimire said, “You can get the sense of what’s beautiful about the world from other peoples’ words.”

Another ULM student, Chloe Howard, wishes more students would attend events held by ULM’s English program.

As a sophomore English major, she already appreciates poetry, but she believes attending events like Henning’s poetry reading can help students learn to love literature.