Sometimes, poetry and science seem to come from entirely different worlds. It’s easy to find poems that tap into romance, fantasy, even horror. But a science fiction poem? Those feel far and few between.
I wouldn’t say it’s outwardly nonexistent or impossible to write. The root of science fiction lies in science. So it's logical that by turning to actual science for inspiration, we can find all sorts of interesting topics to utilize in poetry. So turn on a space documentary or a series describing undersea exploration. And if you don’t want to invest the time to watch that, here’s a list of sciencey things for your consideration to get you started.
GRAVITY AND MAGNETISM
I would wager that these scientific theories get used the most in poetry and songwriting. We romanticize gravity’s ability to keep us grounded or pull things together. Think of all the images that come from gravity: falling, sinking, flying, getting weighed down, and so on. It grounds us all, and we dream of escaping it to soar through the sky.
In a similar vein, magnets are all about attraction and repulsion. They like to stick together (ha), but they can also drive things away from one another. When pushing magnets of the same polarity towards one another, there’s resistance. Magnets hold plenty of poetic potential, especially when it comes to love or infatuation.
Why do so many science things come back to love and attraction? Of course you can talk about the marvels of electricity, how it powers the world, how it lights up the darkness, and so on. But another interesting angle lies in our very bodies. Our brains naturally generate electricity, and our thoughts come from little electric pulses that fire between our synapses. Every nerve in our body runs with sparks – which sounds like fantasy, doesn’t it? If you’re looking to write a poem on thought, life, or the soul, electricity might be an interesting angle to take.
Many of the theories surrounding atoms hold poetic potential. They make up everything, varying in configuration and reactivity. These infinitesimally tiny building blocks unite the entire universe, each vibrating at their own frequency. Yet, atoms are mostly made of empty space. It’s believed that since so much space exists within an atom, we technically never touch another object – just the space between our personal atoms. This theory leads to a fascinating idea of isolation, even when we’re close to one another.
SPACE AND THE ABYSS
On one end of the spectrum we find the miniscule atom. On the other end of the spectrum exists the ever-expanding edges of the universe. Outer space holds countless potential for inspiration. Planets, stars, asteroids, each cycling through the black emptiness? Light shooting through the vacuum until it reaches our eyes? Somehow existing on the same planet at the same time as your crush? Plenty of themes await, including isolation, unity, belonging, purpose, and so much more.
You don’t even need to leave the atmosphere to find an alien world. There’s so much about the ocean we do not know. The murky waters hide countless creatures that defy the imagination. They live in darkness and immense pressure, finding ways to generate their own light and adapt to the depths. What lives down there seems equally as alien as anything in space, yet it lives on the same planet as us – perfect for a poem regarding knowledge, light, familiarity, uncertainty, etc.
is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graduating in May 2020 with a degree in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis, Ian writes comics, poetry, and scripts. He is currently an intern for The Brain Health Magazine and aims to work in the comic publishing industry. In his spare time, Ian plays Dungeons & Dragons, board games, and bass guitar.
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