Poetry for Engineers, Part 5 – Big Words and Little Words

December 18th, 2011 § 11 comments § permalink

In Part 4: Finding Words, we chose the subject matter for our poem, and we began to refine it by removing unnecessary words. But how do we know which words to discard and which words to keep? All the way back in A Problem To Solve, when were struggling to describe feelings with language, we decided that using words like “very”, “extremely”, or “thoroughly” to make something sound more intense didn’t do a terribly good job. However, even though we have chosen to describe meaningful events that can make Earnest experience intense feelings for himself, we still need to use intense language in our descriptions. How do we know what kind of words to use? How do we know when to use little words and when to use big words?

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Poetry for Engineers, Part 4 – Finding Words

December 12th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

In Part 3: The Essence Of Things, we thought about remembering, and the way in which some special memories seem to capture a certain time, place or experience perfectly and completely. Such memories are laden with meaning. Each little part of them seems significant. We realised we could use this kind of densely-packed event, together with the form of emotional language we discussed in Part 2, to convey the experience of falling in love to our very serious and sensible friend Earnest.


However, we are left with the problem of finding, selecting and editing such an experience from our ill-fated romance with Julia. Here, I must cheat a little, for I know all sorts of particular details about how we met and fell in love with Julia, and you (even though I’m sure you have been reading very carefully), know only a few.

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Poetry For Engineers, Part 3 – The Essence Of Things

December 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

In Part 2: A Problem To Solve, we tried to remember how it felt to fall in love for the first time, and thought about how to share that feeling. We realized that simply telling someone about what happened to us or how we felt at a certain time often didn’t explain our experience to them very well. Instead, we discovered that it was better to choose language that helped that person reproduce our emotions and thoughts in their own mind using their imagination.


That helps us decide how to write, but it doesn’t help us decide what to write about.


If we have fallen in love with Julia, there are many things we could write about. We could write about the first time we saw her. We could write about the first time we spoke to her. We could write about the long evenings we spent writing her letters, and the many mornings we scrumpled them up and threw them away. We could describe the bravery it took to ask her to the dance, or the sadness we felt when she refused.

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