Volume 8, Number 2
Spring 2007

Guest Editor: Kwame Alexander


Scientists are finding that, after all, love really comes down to a chemical addiction between people. Here I was thinking that my wife was attracted to my sonnets and sestinas, and all along it was Dopamine. Maybe it’s not so cut and dry, but certainly there is a connection, and this issue of Beltway takes a look at the intersection of science and love, or as my friend, poet and professor Erin Murphy so aptly put it (in the title of her book), The Science of Desire.

We are all familiar with the concepts of ardor and agape as seen through the lens of the arts. The Aristotelian Philosophy of love is as much a part of our culture as Reality TV and Valentine's Day. The poems here, however, take us in a slightly different direction, exploring the multitude of ways that science can help us not only understand, but appreciate human compassion, bonding, intimacy, and relationships—literally and metaphorically.

if i am yr heart
imagine me inside
beating, pumping, loving

The poets here examine myriad of woes and wonders of the heart, the brain, and yes, even the eyes. Dr. Maureen O’Dea offers a familial vision of love like only an Ophthalmologist can; Deanna Nikaido is concise in her language of longing as a designer should be; The booming voice of Tonya Maria Matthews is full of research and analysis and conclusions. Of course, in matters of love, this Biomedical Engineer has a great deal of common sense on her side too; Katy Richey is new on the scene, but certainly not new to desire, as she teaches us in her fiery verse; In her book Diary of a Cell, Jennifer Gresham bridges the gap between her passions for poetry and chemistry. Here she walks with us across that bridge, hand in hand, one pure stanza at a time.

In the end, it’s all connected, from a smile to low serotonin levels; from sushi to a kiss; from geometry to a poem. This, my friend, is the Science of Love.

Kwame Alexander
April 2007

Kwame Alexander, poet and producer, is the author of eight books including Do The Write Thing: 7 Steps to Publishing Success, Dancing Naked on the Floor: Poems and Essays, Tough Love: The Life and Death of Tupac Shakur, and The Way I Walk, a collection of young adult poems and short stories. He conducts writing/publishing workshops at schools and conferences throughout the country. Alexander resides in the Washington, DC area, where he serves as producer of the annual Capital Book Fest presented by The Washington Post, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. His new young adult book, Crush: Love Poems will be published in Spring 2007.

To read more by this author:
Kwame Alexander
Alexander's Tribute to Langston Hughes: The Memorial Issue
Kwame Alexander: Tenth Anniversary Issue



Table of Contents

Jennifer Gresham

Love in Nerdville
The Glassblower's Heart
After Apollo 13, Jim Lovell Stares at the Moon
The Rythm Method
If We Were Quarks

Katy Richey

high blood pressure
haiku: emphathy

Maureen O'Dea

For a Friend's Father
Images Remain
I Tried Suicide

Tonya Maria Matthews

Science and Poetry
Your Love is Like a Mayan Mathematical Equation
Freedom: A Love Poem for all my Soldiers on a Budget

Deanna Nikaido

November 7, 1999
September 13, 2001
July 18, 2005
November 29, 2002
April 3, 2005