Shifting Realities: A Story of a Poem

Published by J. Gregroy McVerry on

Image: "GRB 080319B" by NASA Public Domain

Someone asked me about the genesis of a recent poem. This is the behind the stage #clmooc #literacies

I recently published a poem Redshift" and someone pinged me and asked how I wrote the poem. The poem tries to capture the feeling of weight by using everything from Newton's First Law (Inertial Frame) to gamma ray burst as a metaphor for every day life.

First I often write about space and gravity. When you talk about forces billions of years old at a scale of energy we can never imagine you have good material that almost approaches the mysteries of the human condition.

I am also lazy. Coming up with new ideas is hard. Many of the poems I write each day map perfectly to the featured article or "on this day" feature of Wikipedia. I love this feature I could chase rabbit holes forever. Sometimes these journeys become poems.

I read the following articles for the poem:

As I would read I would then take notes to form the poem. In the first phase I just collect phrases I think sound cool. I look for phrases that easily have double meanings or where I can allude to everyday struggles utilizing an antithesis of paradigms.

screenshot of journal

I then draft the poem. Usually in my journal. You also see all the names for the Triangulum Constellation. I thought that would make a good poem too. Babylonians called it "The Plow." It marked the start of Autumn harvest. The Chinese call the constellation "Heaven's Great General." Poem pretty much writes itself.

screenshot of journal

I would never recommend poetry as a way to synthesize information about science (I would still make it a playlist assignment choice) but it really works for me. When you transform phenomenon from billions of years ago in to arranged phonemes the information you use remains sticky.

In the end I have no secret sauce to writing poetry. I read multiple sources, take notes, draft an idea, and publish a poem. Like gravity. The Writing Process is a constant that can not change without altering your frame of reference.

Also on IndieWeb Poetry