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Element: The Atomic Weight & Radius of Love

2021 - Shortlisted


Element: The Atomic Weight and Radius of Love contains a poem for 60 of the chemical elements found on the periodic table. The number of words in each poetic section is carefully calibrated to reflect properties such as the particular element’s atomic radius or atomic weight. However, the poetic result is a remarkably sustained and supple meditation on love and obsessiveness, the metrics of closeness; taking us through elements like chlorine (‘I drown in your swimming-pool eyes’) and fluorine (‘o! pearly-white/ knight of mine’). 

Albiston’s poems slide through linguistic associations, etymologies, histories and locations. They establish a scale that is at once both atomic and cosmic, harnessing those minutely observed details of elemental love alongside the vast, world-altering consequences of emotional and chemical states. This is a volume where facts care about feelings or, at least, facts are pulled into the orbit of various powerful and complex desires.