By Grace Apostol
On Monday, Oct. 3, from 6 to 7 p.m., molecular biophysicist and writer Dr. Joseph Osmundson led a workshop and discussion via Zoom. Through the sponsorship of the Small Literary Arts Centers Coalition (SLACC) that includes Washington College, Bucknell University, and Smith College, Osmundson discussed his new book, “Virology.”
According to Dr. Osmundson’s website, he is based in New York City and received his PhD. in Molecular Biophysics from Rockefeller University in New York.
The event began with a prompt for the participants to write a haiku poem that can be said in one breath that describes an interaction in a room that the participants have slept in.
“As a writer who has shifted into podcasting…the outloudness of genres like podcasting or sharing your work at a reading, as terrifying and horrible as it is, teaches you a whole new register of your writing and ways to write,” Osmundson said on sharing work out loud.
He then read from his book “Capsid: A Love Song”where according to Dr. Osmundson, it was his first time writing about science as a scientist.
“My cell is an ocean, a wide fluid mosaic,” he said. “Your particle, a weathered round packed with thorns and spikes.”
According to the Norton website, Dr. Osmundson’s new book “Virology” is, “to understand the structure and mechanics of viruses and to examine how viruses like HIV and COVID-19 have redefined daily life.”
After the reading, Dr. Osmundson shared his screen to show a photo of the HIV particle that he utilized for his writing.
“I wanted to render this image through writing and think of HIV infection and the viral life cycle as a metaphor for love and lost love,” Dr. Osmundson said.
A participant asked how Dr. Osmundson balanced scientific accuracy with metaphor, where according to Osmundson, he worked on viruses for a “long time” and the metaphors are “very researched.”
Next, Dr. Osmundon offered a ten minute writing session, during which he suggested attendees write about a scene of physical intimacy regarding the scientific process within your own body.
Answering a question, Dr. Osmundson said, “I have always been confused on why people think science and writing should be cold and distant and objective.”
To end the event, Dr. Osmundson gave one last prompt to participants that included a short reading from his new book “Virology.” This prompt was to write three paragraphs, one paragraph on a piece of visual art and its experience, with the other two following this theme, but in two other different points of view.
Dr. Osmundson’s book “Virology”was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Literary Hub and is available now on Norton, Amazon, or in most places books are sold.