Governor General's Literary Awards·Moving Forward

Madhur Anand reflects on science, art and emerging from the third-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Normal Forms on Hope Bay is an original poem by Madhur Anand, part of CBC Books' Moving Forward series.

Normal Forms on Hope Bay is an original poem by Madhur Anand, part of CBC Books' Moving Forward series

Normal Forms on Hope Bay is an original poem by Madhur Anand, the winner of the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

Normal Forms on Hope Bay is an original poem by Madhur Anand. It is part of Moving Forward, a special series of new, original writing featuring work by the English-language winners of the 2020 Governor General's Literary Awards, presented in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Read more works from Moving Forward here

Crystal-clear oscillations, sustained expirations
of Newton's equations, it can take fifty years to
find a feather shaped like an arrow. I curl my lips
to simulate Northern cardinals, ancient cedars,
low-dimensional puritans, shed imitations
of my upright stance. The escarpment, a dotted line,
purple and white trilliums announcing more vaccines.
Science in retreat, Kishori Amonkar sings man
mein anand, tan mein anand
, as third waves deposit
funeral pyres along the banks of distant rivers.
I dream of American museums I could not
imagine, Indian songbirds conserved in drawers.
I play with three parameters of the Bogdanov
-Takens bifurcation mapped to stiffness, pressure, and
time scale in the syrinx. I hear it first, the future.


Madhur Anand's inspiration for Normal Forms on Hope Bay

"Integrating many ways of knowing, those of both science and of art, help me in linking personhood and ecology in the face of global and personal loss. As an ecologist, I have spent decades trying to predict the future, to avoid catastrophes. I create ecological models that introduce all kinds of disturbances and perturbations into 'normal' ecosystems, healthy ecosystems, to find out where the fragility, the vulnerability, lies, in order to try to better sustain these systems.

As an ecologist, I have spent decades trying to predict the future, to avoid catastrophes.

"I have learned that small changes can have big impacts, that warning signs are not always obvious, and that there are plenty of unintended consequences. As a poet and memoirist, I would say I do exactly the same thing, only using different methods, mysterious ones, as I cannot detail with precision the methods behind creating my poems and stories. This is the case even when my poems and stories are true, and yes, at times, predictive."

About Madhur Anand

Anand is a poet and professor of ecology at the University of Guelph. (Ian Willms)

Madhur Anand is a poet and professor of ecology at the University of Guelph. She is also the author of the poetry collection A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes. Anand won the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction for This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart.

About the series Moving Forward

CBC Books asked the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award winners to contribute an original piece of writing on the theme Moving Forward. Normal Forms on Hope Bay was Madhur Anand's contribution to the series. 

Read the rest of the series:

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