Your Project as a Poem
For AcWriMo, we invite you into a little competition and some unexpected perspectives: can you transform your doctoral thesis, journal article or research project into a poem?
We even have some prizes for the winners!
This can be a fun exercise, and a break from the hard work of theory, experiments, or analysis. You might also find it gives you a fresh way of thinking about and communicating what you do.
This is your challenge:
Write a poem that describes or responds to your research. It can take any form you like, as long as it has a maximum of 40 lines. Any fixed form or free verse is welcome.
Email your poem to email@example.com by Friday 25th November with the subject heading “My project as a poem”. Please make sure the formatting is exactly as you want it.
Please also let us know your provisional thesis/paper/project title and add a short paragraph providing some context for your poem (200 words max).
All poems are welcome, and we will share entries on our Twitter feed during AcWriMo.*
At the end of AcWriMo, a judging panel of writers and DC staff will select their favourite poems. These will win the authors a £25 book token (or equivalent), and special mention (with poem) in the DC newsletter.
Why Poetry? How Poetry? Who Poetry?
Poetry isn’t for everyone, but it is for anyone. We encourage you to give it a go, even if you’ve never tried writing (and sharing) verse before. Most of our contributors last year were trying something new, and many found it a refreshing change, a fun challenge, and a way to present their complex work for a general or school audience.
Despite a traditional tension between the worlds of science and poetry (if somewhat exaggerated), some of our best poets began life in very different disciplines, such as David Morley (a zoologist) or Vikram Seth (who took 11 years to not complete an economics PhD at Standford). Sometimes that facility with a specific way of thinking or the guiding ideas of your research can create an interesting spin on how you see the rest of the world. As Zen-poet Jane Hirshfield once said, “I don’t think poetry is based just on poetry; it is based on a thoroughly lived life.”
And poets have always gleefully learned from and stolen from science and scholarship. Samiya Bashir’s collection ‘Field Theories’, for example, incorporates the ideas and terminology of quantum physics into powerful, sometimes surreal, poems that address political and social issues.
But we’re not sending you out there alone! There are two optional poetry workshop (online and in-person) on Thursday 10th November. Here you can enjoy some fun writing prompts to get you in the mood, and share your initial ideas with a group of fellow explorers.
Book your place here:
Online with Hajar Mahfoodh and Mike Rose: 14:00-16:00
On Campus with Poet-in-Residence Ian Heames: 14:00-15:30
Or if you can’t make it to the workshop, here is a link to last year’s blog, where I introduce some useful starting points: What am I passionate about? Can I use an arresting image to describe my work in a new way? Do I have a witty line or stinging limerick up my sleeve? Can poetry help me describe something elusive about my experience? Who might my new audience be? You might also enjoy this blog (with comments) about how different writers actually start a poem.
Those key dates again:
Poetry workshops: Thursday 10th November
Submission Deadline: Friday 25th November
Winners announced: early December
For any queries, please email Mike: M.Rose@surrey.ac.uk
*Please only enter your poem if you are happy for us to share it, but of course we encourage you to have a go even if you don’t submit it. We reserve the right not to share poems that might be considered inappropriate. For winning entries, we will also re-share the poem(s) on the Doctoral College blog when we announce outcomes, as well as using other appropriate channels.
Dr Mike Rose, Researcher Development Training Officer