Monday, November 28, 2005
Writing Science Poetry
Science poetry or scientific poetry is a specialized poetic genre that makes 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 may be found in anthologies, in collections, in science fiction magazines that sometimes include poetry, in other magazines and journals. Many science fiction magazines, including online magazines, such as Strange Horizons, often publish science fiction poetry, another form of science poetry. Of course science fiction poetry is a somewhat different genre. Online there is the Science Poetry Center for those interested in science poetry, and for those interested in science fiction poetry The Science Fiction Poetry Association. In addition, there's Science Fiction Poetry Handbook and Ultimate Science Fiction Poetry Guide, all found online. Strange Horizons has published the science fiction poetry of Joanne Merriam, Gary Lehmann and Mike Allen.
As for science poetry, science or scientific poets like science fiction poets may 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 in all the poetic forms: free verse, blank verse, 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 pun to irony and understatement, to every poetic diction, figures of speech and rhythm, etc. Even metaphysical scientific poetry is possible. In his anthology, The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics, editor Timothy Ferris aptly includes a section entitled "The Poetry of Science." Says Ferris in the introduction to this section, "Science (or the 'natural philosophy' from which science evolved) has long provided poets with raw material, inspiring some to praise scientific ideas and others to react against them."
Such greats as Milton, Blake, Wordsworth, Goethe either praised or "excoriated" science and/or a combination of both. This continued into the twentieth century with such poets as Marianne Moore, T. S. Eliot, Robinson Jeffers, Robert Frost and Robert Hayden (e.g. "Full Moon"--"the brilliant challenger of rocket experts") not to mention many of the lesser known poets, who nevertheless maintain a poetic response to scientific matters. Says Ferris, "This is not to say that scientists should try to emulate poets, or that poets should turn proselytes for science....But they need each other, and the world needs both." Included in his anthology along with the best scientific prose/essays are the poets Walt Whitman ("When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer"), Gerard Manley Hopkins "("I am Like a Slip of Comet..."), Emily Dickinson ("Arcturus"), Robinson Jeffers ("Star-Swirls"), Richard Ryan ("Galaxy"), James Clerk Maxwell ("Molecular Evolution"), John Updike ("Cosmic Gall"), Diane Ackerman ("Space Shuttle") and others.
Certainly those writing scientific poetry like those writing science fiction need not praise all of science, but science nevertheless the subject matter, and there is often a greater relationship between poetry and science than either poets and/or scientists admit. Creativity and romance can be in both, as can the intellectual and the mathematical. Both can be aesthetic and logical. Or both can be nonaesthetic and nonlogical, depending on the type of science and the type 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 environmental science to computer science to engineering/technical science. It may also take its subject from scientists themselves, from Brahmagypta to Einstein, from Galileo to Annie Cannon. It may speak to specific types of scientists in general as Goethe "True Enough: To the Physicist" in the Ferris anthology. (Subsequent poets mentioned are also from this anthology.)
Science poetry may make use of many forms or any form from lyrical to narrative to sonnet to dramatic monologue to free verse to light verse to haiku to villanelle, from poetry for children or adults or both, for the scientist for the nonscientist or both. John Frederick Nims has written for example, "The Observatory Ode." ("The Universe: We'd like to understand.") There are poems that rhyme, poems that don't rhythms. There's "concrete poetry" such as Annie Dillard's "The Windy Planet" in which the poem in in the shape of a planet, from "pole" to "pole," an inventive poem. "Chaos Theory" even becomes the subject of poetry as in Wallace Stevens' "The Connoisseur of Chaos."
And what of your science and/or scientific poem? Think of all the techniques of poetry and all the techniques of science. What poet of view should you use? Third person? First person, a dramatic monologue? Does a star speak? Or the universe itself? Does a sound wave speak? Or a micrometer? Can you personify radio astronomy?
What are the main themes, the rhythms? What figures of speech, metaphors, similes, metaphor, can be derived from science. What is your attitude toward science and these scientific matters?
Read. Revise. Think. Proofread. Revise again. Shall you write of 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 of the history of science? Of scientific news?
Read all the science you can.
Read all the poetry you can.
You are a poet.
You are a scientist.
What have you to say 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 say to science?
What does science say to poetry?
Susan Shaw is a freelance writer and web content writer. Her articles and web content appear online.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005
The Two Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes is known to us because of his poetry. But he was a medical doctor and professor at Harvard University Medical School. Some don’t realize that he and his son were not the same person.
At http://www.2020site.org/poetry/owh.html we learn the following about the father, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.:
“HOLMES was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 29, 1809, and died October 7, 1894.
”At the age of twenty he graduated at Harvard University, then took up the study of law. This study, however, was soon abandoned for medicine. He studied in Europe for a short time, and took his degree as doctor of medicine at Cambridge, in 1836. Two years later he was appointed to the chair of Anatomy and Physiology in Dartmouth College. This position he held till 1847, when he accepted a similar position at Harvard, which he held till 1892. All of his literary work was performed in addition to the labors of a continuous professorship in college of about forty-seven years…
“He will always stand in the temple of American literature, among the most brilliant and popular writers.”
We learn about Holmes’ famous son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/historyofus/web07/features/bio/B03_2.html:
“At the end of his service in the Civil War, Holmes entered Harvard Law School. He became co-editor of the "American Law Review," a commercial legal periodical, and wrote his great work "The Common-Law" in 1881. In 1882, Holmes became professor of law at Harvard, and was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1899. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Oliver Wendell Holmes to the United States Supreme Court in 1902. He exercised a deep influence on the law through his support of the doctrine of judicial restraint which urged judges to avoid letting their personal opinions affect their decisions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Now that we know there were two famous men of the same name, let’s get back to the father.
We know that he was a great poet, but did you know that he was a great initiator in medicine? His desire to teach doctors that they must be aware of their gynecological practices and keep a sterile environment to prevent the loss of life among mothers and new-born infants has saved many thousands of lives. His famous article on this subject was The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever.
If it were not for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., many of you would not be here to read this article, and perhaps I would not have been here to write it.
There is free e-book with some of the poems of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. at: http://www.poemhunter.com/i/ebooks/pdf/oliver_wendell_holmes_2004_9.pdf
Why not read a poem or two now. You’ll be glad you did!
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
If it were not for Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the Supreme Court would still be making decisions based on personal opinions rather than the law.
Or are they?
copyright©John T. Jones, Ph.D. 2005
John T. Jones, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org)is a retired R&D engineer and VP of a Fortune 500 company. He is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering), poetry, etc. Former editor of international trade magazine. Jones is Executive Representative of International Wealth Success. More info: http://www.tjbooks.com. Business web site: http://www.bookfindhelp.com (IWS wealth-success books and kits and business newsletters / TopFlight flagpoles)
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Freelance Writers - Five Reasons Why You Need A Website
These days, if you're starting a career as a freelance writer, it's no longer enough to ring up a few editors and distribute a few business cards. Most of the people who want to hire you will ask if you have a website. If the answer is 'no', you could lose out on some valuable sources of income. Here are five reasons why you should have a web presence.
1. Developing the brand of you
As a writer, your name is your brand. People will like or hate your stuff, trust or distrust your opinions. Either way, they'll have positive or negative feelings every time they see an article with your name on it. So your job is to build editors' and readers' trust in that brand.
2. Writing is your business - you need to treat it like one
Every reputable business has a website that showcases its products and services. You should too. How else are people going to know what you have to offer? A website allows your potential clients the luxury of accessing your information in their own time. You should include a resume, references, services (types of writing), samples of work, links to where you're published on the net.
A website is a time saving way of showcasing your past and current work (an online portfolio or selection of clips). You can point editors to it as well - a time saver for you and them. No longer do you have to spend time selecting and printing your best work. Instead, upload examples to your site and link to other places where your work has been published.
4. Make your passion work for you
Some of the writing you do will be for love rather than money, but that's no reason why you can't make it work for you. Upload your short stories, poetry, novel chapters and so on to show how creative you are.
5. Skills development
If you do the web development yourself, you'll also be gaining another valuable skill. The discipline of editing your material for a website will be invaluable when you're trying to get a commission to write 40 web articles for a pittance (we all have to start somewhere).
So what are you waiting for? Get your stuff on the net and start building the brand of you.
Sharon Hurley Hall is a freelance writer, ghostwriter and editor. Sharon worked in publishing for 18 years, writing articles and editing and designing books and magazines. She has also lectured on journalism. For more information or to contact Sharon, visit http://www.doublehdesign.com/. Read more of Sharon's writing at http://www.doublehdesign.com/blog/
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Effective Networking for Writers
'Tis the season for conferences and seminars! Many of my friends have all been conference-hopping in recent weeks and we've been discussing how fruitful these gatherings can be when you can make great and lasting contacts. But how do you come away with something more substantial than a stack of business cards? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1.) Speak Up! The Magic of Telling
"Isolation is a dream killer," says life coach Barbara Sher. One of the women in my mastermind group reminded me of that today. She recently attended an event where, for the first time, she came out of her shell and started telling people what she did. She was met with great enthusiasm and people asking her for samples and wanting to refer her to others. All because she spoke up. Now that doesn't mean you go up to someone and talk non-stop! It does mean that you go into a conversation with a clear description of who you are and what you do or write.
2.) Be a Productive Networker
Your networking will not be productive if you are handing out business cards indiscriminately or asking someone who isn't the right person to read your work. Or maybe you're listening only partially to someone and then writing them off if they don't seem to have what you want. Productive networking is about building long-term relationships. Why long-term? Because it's highly unlikely that you or your contact have what the other wants at that very moment. The idea is to keep in touch until you do. In the meantime, you want to offer value or be of service so that the other person feels it'll be worthwhile to stay in touch with you.
3.) Engage in Two-Way Conversations
When the other person is talking, listen up! Who is the person and what do they need? They've come to the event for their own reasons. What are they? Can you assist? Get a clear understanding of what the person does and respect it! For instance, don't push a science fiction novel on an agent who only handles non-fiction. Tell the other person what you're up to, but don't babble. Think attraction: be engaging, not desperate!
4.) Maintain the Connection
Ask for permission to stay in touch--don't just add the person to your email list. Decide how you'll stay in touch. Occasional emails? A monthly newsletter? In "Making a Literary Life", author Carolyn See suggests writing notes to a different contact daily. Try to attend events where your most important contacts are involved, even if it means taking a trip. It's just one more thing that helps them take you seriously.
5.) When the Time Comes, Be Specific!
Use your contact only when they can help you the most. "Ask early, ask often" doesn't apply here. Know exactly what you want from the person. Tell him or her, in detail, how they can help you. Make it easy for them! If you have developed the relationship well, the person will be more than happy to lend a hand. And when they've done so, be gracious--write thank you notes!
One Last Note: Be patient. Building a network takes consistent, persistent effort. If you truly believe in what you're doing, and it shows in your work, others will believe in you as well.
© 2005 Sophfronia Scott
Author and Writing Coach Sophfronia Scott is "The Book Sistah" TM. Get her FREE REPORT, "The 5 Big Mistakes Most Writers Make When Trying to Get Published" and her FREE online writing and book publishing tips at www.TheBookSistah.com.
Sophfronia Scott, "The Book Sistah," is author of the bestselling novel, All I Need to Get By. If you liked today's issue, stay tuned for more because The Book Sistah also offers FREE audio classes, FREE articles, workshops, and other resources to help aspiring authors get published and market their books successfully.
The Book Sistah, 230 South Main St. Ste. 319, Newtown, CT 06470 203-426-2036, Info@TheBookSistah.com
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Finding Your True Voice
There's a prevailing sense in the world of writing that everything has already been said. Truly, it has. The human race has always experienced birth, the triumphs and tragedies of life in a transitory world, and death; and mankind has written of these experiences for as long as there has been the written word.
The themes are universal. Comparative mythology has demonstrated that they've cropped up, throughout history, within all cultures around the globe.
But look around at our own culture in this day and age. There has never been a human situation to replicate this one, not since the dawn of time. And our age needs the nourishment of stories as much as any other that has been or is yet to be. What I'm describing here is the artist's imperative to capture the spirit of the moment, to clothe something universal to human experience in a form that's relevant to people in the modern day.
Find your own voice. There has never been - nor will there ever be - another person like you. Perhaps everything has been said before, but not in the unique and particular way that YOU can say it when you're allowing your own true voice to ring through in your writing.
Our world is in constant flux, ever evolving. There can never be a definitive statement made on any topic to stand for all time. The spirit of invention must constantly be revived, else all humanity flounder in the mire of fixed ideas and beliefs, like old fossils and stones in the river that the flow of life rushes passed.
Don't worry about being original; to be yourself should be your only concern. You came into this world to express something that no one else could. If you stifle that inner need to communicate out of fear of retreading old ideas, then we'll all be made the poorer for it.
There seem to be dual personalities existing within many writers. There is the exhibitionist self that always has an eye on the readers and the market at large. "Look at me!" it says. "Look at what I wrote!" It's easy to identify writing that comes from such an ego place; it smacks of self-satisfaction, and though the prose may be immaculate it resembles a kind of exotic flower - something to be admired from a distance. Luckily there is another self within the writer that is motivated by the desire to communicate. When we're in touch with this aspect of ourselves then we understand, intuitively, that art is meant to bring people together and create a sense of unity. Then we write with gracious humility, offering what knowledge and skill we have towards the purpose of touching others.
THIS kind of writing is easily perceived, too, because it reaches directly into the heart. It honors and dignifies the soul of writer and reader alike.
In other words, if we write for love of art and humankind - and not primarily from a place of desiring recognition, wealth or fame - then we come into our own authentic voices. That's where the true potency of our words is derived from.
Seth Mullins is the author of "Song of an Untamed Land", a novel of speculative fantasy in lawless frontier territory. Visit Seth at http://authorsden.com/sethtmullins.
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There's a lot going on in my life that tends to take some of the edge off.
However, I have a home that hasn't been flooded. No suicide bombers are likely to interfere directly with my peace and tranquility. I know where my next meal is coming from and will sleep in a soft bed tonight. I am in excellent health, and, even though I am 60, come from a long line of long-lived people...most of whom also enjoyed excellent health. In fact, a great many of my aunts, uncles, etc., are still alive and doing fairly well. I am not rich, but have a regular income and it will continue for my remaining years.
I am also stuffed with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, etc. (we had Thanksgiving one day early because both daughters had to work on Thanksgiving day).
I guess I've got it pretty good after all. For those of you that are wondering, by the way, I will eventually get around to wrting about writing and poetry, and stuff like that.
Monday, November 21, 2005
It's hard, sometimes, to be a writer
Write something everyday.
Fortunately, I have over 40 years of writing at my disposal. I can always rework an article or poem, or, in this day of websites that I never get around to completing, I can add a poem written over 20 years ago to a website that I created 2 years ago and haven't touched in 6 months!
I have a collection of stories, poems, lies, etc., that I have accumulated over 60 years of life.
When I hit a block, I root through all of these until I get an idea. I find that with age, the desire and ability to create poetry thinned out in me. However, the desire to write "real stuff" grew. I don't get the hots for fiction. I like to write informational articles, opinions, essays, or cast out my wisdom for the world to latch onto.
PLEASE: TELL ME WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU WRITE, WHERE IT IS, CAN I GO SEE IT, ETC.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Where does poetry come from?
I have written poetry simply to show someone that creating on demand CAN be done. I have forced myself to MAKE poetry simply so that I could prove I still could or to grease a sticky poetry wheel or cog in my head.
On a couple of these occasions, what came out was, in my opinion, good. However, it usually was not what I WOULD have written had the words flowed, tumbled, or struggled out of me in their usual fashion.
Please take a moment to drop by my site at http://ravensong.4t.com . I apologize for not having a guestbook there. I used to have one, but it got spammed out of existence.
Why do YOU write?