Ada Lovelace Day 2020

Atomic Poems

Atomic Poems is an exploration and celebration of the eponymous Atomic Poems written in the 1650’s by Margaret Cavendish, a truly influential figure in science and literature. We worked with our partner English Heritage to engage with Cavendish’s legacy at Bolsover Castle.

To mark Ada Lovelace Day – an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) – we drew a connection between Cavendish and Lovelace, both prolific writers whose work intersects poetry with maths and science. We ran two online workshops on Tuesday 13th October (2020), where participants created poetry through code. The sessions were led by artist Cora Glasser, poet Hannah Cooper-Smithson and creative technologist Claire Garside. Participants wrote a short piece of text inspired by Cavendish and her poems. Then, using our online Fibonacci Poetry Generator, they were guided to transform their text into a piece of unique Fibonacci Poetry and to share their work using the hashtag #AtomicPoems.

See more of Margaret’s poetry here:

Digital installation of Fibonacci Poetry at Bolsover Castle, 2020

Cora created a temporary site-specific installation at Bolsover Castle, that showcased the Fibonacci poems. Photographs of the installation can be seen on the Year 1 Showcase page.

Click to view the Year 1 Showcase
This Girl Codes Atomic Poems Book.

To celebrate the first year of This Girl Codes, we created a book that combines the poems created by participants during the workshops and images from the installation.

Click to download the Atomic Poems Book. PDF

Writing Resources

Poet Hannah Cooper-Smithson created a worksheet including writing exercises to help you create your own atomic poem. Hannah also wrote a blog about her work on the project.

Fibonacci Poetry Generator

You can read and download the instruction sheet to learn how to code your own poem and use this link to open the poetry generator using ‘Trinket Python’ (see the ‘instruction sheet’ for guidance): 

Click to download the Trinket instructions

Fibonacci Poetry

Fibonacci poems are structured according to the Fibonacci sequence, a famous series of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13…). Some Fibonacci poems have increasing numbers of words per line, while for others, it’s an increasing syllable count. You could even write a whole series of Fibonacci poems, where it’s the number of lines per poem that increases (the first poem has one line, the second poem has two lines, and so on).

Click to download the worksheet to help you write your own atomic poem

Digital Cavendish

Several digital projects archive and/or explore Cavendish and her writing:
The International Margaret Cavendish Society provides a hub for newsletters, contacts, and links to Cavendish’s works.
The Digital Cavendish Project aims to make Cavendish’s writing accessible and readable for people across the web, and to compile the Complete Works of Margaret Cavendish.
Dawn of The Unread, a digital literature project, updates, mirrors and celebrates Margaret Cavendish’s story in a modern context.