Writing Science Poetry

Writing Science Poetry

    Science poetry or scientific poetry may be a specialized poetic genre that creates the use of science as its subject. Written by scientists and nonscientists, science poets are generally avid readers and appreciators of science and "science matters." Science poetry could also be found in anthologies, in collections, in fantasy magazines that sometimes include poetry, in other magazines and journals. Many fantasy magazines, including online magazines, like Strange Horizons, often publish fantasy poetry, another sort of science poetry. fantasy poetry may be a somewhat different genre. Online there's the Science Poetry Center for those curious about science poetry, and for those curious about fantasy poetry The fantasy Poetry Association. additionally, there's a fantasy Poetry Handbook and supreme fantasy Poetry Guide, all found online. Strange Horizons has published the fantasy poetry of Joanne Merriam, Gary Lehmann, and Mike Allen.

    As for science poetry, science or scientific poets like fantasy poets can also publish collections of poetry in almost any stylistic format. Science or scientific poets, like other poets, must know the "art and craft" of poetry, and science or scientific poetry appears altogether the poetic forms: vers libre, poem, metrical, rhymed, unrhymed, abstract and concrete, ballad, dramatic monologue, narrative, lyrical, etc. All the poetic devices are in use also, from alliteration to apostrophe to punto irony and understatement, to each poetic diction, figures of speech and rhythm, etc. Even metaphysical scientific poetry is feasible. In his anthology, the planet Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and arithmetic, editor Timothy Ferris aptly includes a neighborhood entitled "The Poetry of Science." Says Ferris within the introduction to the present section, "Science (or the 'natural philosophy' from which science evolved) has long provided poets with a staple, inspiring some to praise scientific ideas et al. to react against them."

    Such greats as Milton, Blake, Wordsworth, Goethe either praised or "excoriated" science and/or a mixture of both. This continued into the 20 th century with such poets as Moore, T. S. Eliot, Jeffers, Frost and Robert Hayden (e.g. "Full Moon"--"the brilliant challenger of rocket experts") to not mention many of the lesser-known poets, who nevertheless maintain a poetic response to scientific matters. Says Ferris, "This isn't to mention that scientists should attempt to emulate poets, or that poets should turn proselytes for science...But they have one another, and therefore the world needs both." Included in his anthology alongside the simplest scientific prose/essays are the poets Whitman ("When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer"), Gerard Manley Hopkins "("I am sort of a Slip of Comet..."), Dickinson ("Arcturus"), Jeffers ("Star-Swirls"), Richard Ryan ("Galaxy"), James Clerk Maxwell ("Molecular Evolution"), Updike ("Cosmic Gall"), Diane Ackerman ("Space Shuttle"), et al. .

    Certainly, those writing scientific poetry like that writing fantasy needn't praise all of science, but science nevertheless the topic matter, and there's often a greater relationship between poetry and science than either poet and/or scientists admit. Creativity and romance are often in both, as can the intellectual and therefore the mathematical. Both are often aesthetic and logical. Or both are often nonaesthetic and nonlogical, counting on the sort of science and therefore the sort of poetry.

    Science poetry takes it subject from scientific measurements to scientific symbols to time & space to biology to chemistry to physics to astronomy to earth science/geology to meteorology to ecology to computing to engineering/technical science. it's going to also take its subject from scientists themselves, from Brahmagypta to Einstein, from Galileo to Annie Cannon. it's going to speak to specific sorts of scientists generally as Goethe "True Enough: To the Physicist" within the Ferris anthology. (Subsequent poets mentioned also are from this anthology.)

    Science poetry may make use of the many forms or any form from lyrical to narrative to sonnet to dramatic monologue to vers libre to light verse to haiku to villanelle, from poetry for youngsters or adults or both, for the scientist for the nonscientist or both. John Frederick Nims has written for instance, "The Observatory Ode." ("The Universe: We'd wish to understand.") There are poems that rhyme, poems that do not rhyme. There's "concrete poetry" like Annie Dillard's "The Windy Planet" during which the poem is within the shape of a planet, from "pole" to "pole," an ingenious poem. "Chaos Theory" even becomes the topic of poetry as in Wallace Stevens' "The Connoisseur of Chaos."

    And what of your science and/or scientific poem? consider all the techniques of poetry and every one the techniques of science. What point of view do you have to use? Third-person? person, a dramatic monologue? Does a star speak? Or the universe itself? Does an acoustic wave speak? Or a micrometer? are you able to personify radio astronomy?

    What are the most themes, the rhythms? What figures of speech, metaphors, similes, metaphor, are often derived from science. what's your attitude toward science and these scientific matters?

    Read. Revise. Think. Proofread. Revise again. Shall you write on evolution, of the atom, of magnetism? Of quanta, of the galaxies, of the speed of sound, of the speed of light? Of Kepler's laws? Shall you write about the history of science? Of scientific news?

    Read all the science you'll.

    Read all the poetry you'll.

    You are a poet.

    You are a scientist.

    What have you ever to mention of the astronomer, the comet, of Arcturus, of star-sirls, of galaxies, of molecular evolution, of atomic architecture, of "Planck time" to allude to other poetic titles?

    What does poetry tell science?

    What does science tell poetry?

    Susan Shaw may be a freelance writer and web page writer. Her articles and web page appear online. Susan Shaw is an affiliate of The Book Store/The Science Library, [http://thebookstore.vstoremarket.com/index.htm] (For The Science Library, put "Science" in their program .)

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