What 3 tips would you offer a scientist writing a poem?
Rachel Rayner: 1) Write write write – get everything out. Allow yourself to write rubbish – it doesn’t matter! Pick up something in your stream of writing that you want to develop further, then write write write on that. Poetry is best when there is a discovery, so give yourself the space to discover something about your topic.
2) Thoroughly research the topic you want to write about it. The more angles you understand your topic from, the more interesting your poetic snapshot of it will be.
3) Read it aloud. Then read it aloud again, and again, and again. Then, get someone else to read it aloud to you. Discover what words or phrases that are being stumbled over and rewrite them. Poetry is an aural medium – it is (usually) written to be heard. Allow yourself to enjoy the sounds and cadences of the poem.
P.S. If you’re struggling, get a prompt from others. I’ll ask a friend to give me a topic, or take a line I enjoyed from a movie and expand on that idea. Recently, a comment about sliding around the earth led me to write a poem on the moment of inertia (I did the calculations and everything).
Similarly to the above, explore all the strange and wonderful vocabulary we have in our languages. If there is a word you really love, that may be a bit unusual, then use it! Build the poem around it.
If you are still stuck, write a paragraph on your topic – don’t aim for a poem. Write it as a letter to someone. When I do this, I take this block of text and put line breaks in here and there until it “looks like” a poem. It will inevitably be a terrible poem (broken prose does not a poem make), but it gives me a place to start. I will then edit it like mad to bring in more imagery, rhythm and maybe even some rhyme. I find it helps get what I want to say on the paper, without worrying about form yet.
Dom Conlon: 1) Write as simply as you can.
2) Write lots and find the phrases which seem to feel true to you and then develop them into the poem.
3) Read everything out loud. It’s easy to let our inner voice take shortcuts. I create images after a long internal dialogue where I’ve chased a rabbit down so many holes that I get lost but because it’s been my journey I don’t always acknowledge how lost I am and so emerge somewhere the reader doesn’t recognize. In fact, this metaphor might be one of those places. So I’ll refer you back to item 1: write simply.
Elicia Fyle: 1) Use poetry styles such as repetition and rhyming.
2) Do your research on the topic that you’ll be discussing.
3) Don’t make your poem too long or too short.