Scientific poetry, also known as science poetry, is a special poetic form that uses science as its subject. Science poets can be scientists or nonscientists. They are avid readers and appreciate science and science matters. Anthologies and collections of science poetry are available. Sometimes, poetry is also included in science fiction magazines. Science fiction magazines such as Strange Horizons often include science fiction poetry. Science fiction poetry is an entirely different genre. For those who are interested in science poetry online, there’s the Science Poetry Center and The Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can also find the Science Fiction Poetry Handbook, and Ultimate Science Fiction Poetry Guide online. Strange Horizons published science fiction poetry by Gary Lehmann, Joanne Merriam and Mike Allen.
Science poetry or science fiction poets can also publish poetry collections in any style. Like other poets science and scientific poets must be able to understand the “art of poetry”. Science and scientific poetry can appear in any form: blank verse, free verse, metrical and unrhymed abstract and concrete, ballads, dramatic monologues, narratives, lyrical, and so on. Every poetic device is available, including alliteration, apostrophe, pun, irony, understatement, and every poetic diction, figure of speech, and rhythm. It is possible to write metaphysical scientific poetry. Timothy Ferris, the editor of The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics, has included a section entitled “The Poetry of Science” in his anthology. Ferris states in the introduction that science (or the “natural philosophy” from which science evolved), has always provided poetry with raw material. This inspired some to praise scientific ideas while others would react to them.
Milton, Blake and Wordsworth were greats who either “excoriated science” or praised it. Marianne Moore (e.g.), T. S. Eliot and Robinson Jeffers, Robert Frost, Robert Hayden, and others continued this tradition into the 20th century. “Full Moon “–“the brilliant competitor of rocket experts”), not to mention many lesser-known poets who still have a poetic response on scientific matters. Ferris says, “This does not mean that scientists should emulate poets or that poets should become proselytes But they need each other and the world requires both.” Along with the best scientific prose/essays, his anthology includes Walt Whitman (“When i Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”) and Gerard Manley Hopkins (“I am Like a Slip Of Comet Emily Dickinson”), Richard Ryan (“Galaxy”) James Clerk Maxwell (“Molecular Evolution”) John Updike (“Cosmic Gal”), Diane Ackerman (“Space Shuttle”), and other poets.
While scientists and poets may not be able to praise every aspect of science, science fiction writers can. There is often a deeper relationship between science and poetry than scientists and poets admit. Both creativity and romance can exist in both the intellectual and mathematical. Both can be both aesthetic and logical. Depending on the type and style of science, both can be aesthetic and logical.
Science poetry covers everything from scientific measurements to scientific symbolisms to time and space to biology, chemistry, physics to astronomy/geology/meteorology to computer science to engineering/technical sciences. It could also be inspired by scientists, such as Einstein to Brahmagypta, Galileo and Annie Cannon. It could speak to certain types of scientists, as Goethe’s “True Enough”: To the Physicsist in Ferris anthology suggests. (The anthology also contains the subsequent poets.
Poetry for science poetry can take many forms, including lyrical, narrative, sonnet, dramatic monologue, free verse, light verse, haiku, villanelle, poetry for children, adults, or both. John Frederick Nims wrote “The Observatory Ode” (“The Universe: We’d love to understand.”) There are rhyme poems and poems without rhythme. There is concrete poetry, such as Annie Dillard’s “The Windy Planet”, in which the poem is in the form of a planet. It can be from “pole” to “pole,” an imaginative poem. Poetry can even be inspired by chaos theory, such as Wallace Stevens’ “The Connoisseur of Chaos.”
What about your science and/or scientific poetry? Consider all the science and poetry techniques. Which point of view do you prefer? The third person? A dramatic monologue in the first person? Can a star speak? Or the universe? Can a sound wave talk? Or a micrometer. Is it possible to personify radioastronomy?
What are the main themes and rhythms? Science can provide metaphors, similes and figures of speech that can be used to describe the world. How do you feel about science and scientific matters?
Read. Revise. Think. Proofread. Reread. Do you want to write about evolution, the atom, and magnetism? Quanta, galaxies, speed of sound, speed of light. What are Kepler’s laws about? Do you want to write about the history of science and technology? What is scientific news?
Learn all you can about science.
You should read all of the poetry.
You are a poet.
Scientists are you.
What can you say about the astronomer, star-sirls and comet? Of molecular evolution, atomic architecture, and “planck time”, to use poetic terms.
What does poetry have to say about science?
What does science have to say about poetry?