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The worst poem ever

Thinking ape. Credit: Pixel-mixer/pixabay

How does feel to write a story and then, just like that, have everyone read it as well as be interested in reading it?

How would it feel to not have to hope quasi-desperately that a story does well after having spent hours – if not days – on it?

How would it feel to not slog and slog, telling yourself that you just need to be proud of covering a beat few others have chosen to?

“Good journalism can only emerge from being a good citizen” – but is there a way to tell what kind of citizenship is valuable and what kind not?

Of course, I’m also asking myself questions about why it is that I chose to be a journalist and then a science journalist.

The first one doesn’t have a short answer and it’s probably also too personal to be discussing on my blog. So let’s leave that for another day, or another forum.

Why science journalist? Because it’s like Kip Thorne has said: it was the pleasure of doing “something in which there was less competition and more opportunity to do something unique.”

When I tell people I’m a science journalist, a common response goes like this: “I’ve distanced myself from science and math since school”. And it goes with a smile. I smile, too.

Except I’m not amused. This mental block that many people have I’ve found is the Indian science journalist’s greatest enemy – at least it’s mine.

What makes it so great is that, to most people, it’s a class- and era-specific ‘survival skill’ they’ve adopted that has likely made their lives more enjoyable.

And we all know how hard it is give fucks about the wonders that unknown unknowns can hold. It’s impossible almost by definition.

Then there are also so many fucks demanded of us to be given to the human condition.

But Ed Yong’s tweet I will never forget, though I do wish I’d faved it: there’s so much more to science than what applies to being human.

Of course, there’s the other, much simpler reason I’m thinking all this, and so likelier to be true: I’m just a lousy science journalist, writing the worst poem ever.

Featured image credit: Pixel-mixer/pixabay.

 

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Celebration

This is a little something for a friend who was getting married. To be frank, I wouldn’t have written it if not for her uncle.

It’s called Celebration, inspired by the Lord Tennyson’s Vastness (c. 1892).

A storm-felt sculpture not to be read,
And a bough, upon its bosom a moulder’d nest,
Astride its weary form, stood stark by the dead;
And beyond him, hung low in the West,

With one thousand rays of shadow and light,
And many in colour but only one in form,
‘Twas a baleful orb that over the gates of night,
A sun, glaring at a coming storm.

Then glided a rapturous paragon forth,
That on the passage of time had thriven;
They call’d her ‘Beauty’ here upon earth,
And the mortal engines of life in heaven.

Behold! For she sang and the people turned,
And the beauty of her voice caught like a flame
From heart to heart it sprang, and on, it burned,
Till her nobility was her soul whence it came.

The voice that sung nae deserving an old sun set,
But a sun rising in the East, in his youth!
Great and noble—oh, yes—but yet—
A man, as men everywhere are, a lover of truth

And bound to follow, wherever she goes,
Hither, thither, and up or down,
Through high hill-passes of stainless snow,
Or the foulest sewer of the town!

Noble and great—oh, aye—but then,
And here a prophet just has earned his due,
For the man was noblier-fashion’d than other men!
Lo! Shall we see to it, then, I and you,

To help the love paving their pathway still,
Until it presses into ardour the evening’s din
Behold! They rise with togetherness, and will,
Now, each others’ hearts aspire to win.

Autumns and Winters, Springs and Summers,
And all old revolutions of this good earth;
Travails of our Empire—carpentered wonders—
What is all of it worth?

Treasures are they all, if we all of us stand
Here as one, in this finest of hours,
Swallowed in mirth, and hand in hand,
To thus bear witness to the celebration of lovers!

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Dorothy & The Dingbats

Ere last evening a scene
Caught all the townsfolk’s eye:
‘Twas poor Billy weeping, oh!
Quoth he: “Mary loves me, but why!
Because I can dance? That lie!”

Then Dorothy raised a hand up,
And offer’d to teach down his worry:
“You’ll be swinging to good music;
Behold! Mary’ll swoon in a hurry,
Leaving her lonely heart in a flurry!”

So Dorothy got her shiny li’l shoes on,
And The Dingbats struck up a song!
Clapping, ev’ryone came out to watch!
They crowded round her in a throng,
But Billy was still lost; he’d stared long!

She had him watch her legs,
And danced, tra-la la-la la!
But he never got it, he didn’t,
You wouldn’t blame him, would ya:
She wasn’t wearing a bra!

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When geeks aspire

On the first day of school,
A geek was born in class;
The kids made fun of him,
Burying a fear inside that math just got harder to pass!

When the words fall down,
His stories are made:
It’s a tale with a moral
That’ll teach you humility and the will to never fade!

When the slut whispered that
For her homework he’d have her flower,
He did it all knowing anyway
That once the time came he’d have to finish in the shower!

When it’s time for DotA-
Get high on frame-rate thrills-
Immortal guts and glory:
It’s not over until they’re all m-m-m-monster kills !

When the card’s on the table
And the bet’s are on hold,
He’s got no poker face;
Smart kid’ll teach you what isn’t stupid but bold!

When geeks aspire,
The game doesn’t end that way!
It plays itself, on and on,
Until he’s got a Wikipedia page on his name some day!

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Why Quentin Tarantino is wrong

(This article involves a prelude that I insist you read.)

It’s important to understand that technology does not, and will not for a long time to come, replace emotional expression and emotional honesty, and that’s where I think the great Quentin Tarantino could be wrong. He once famously stated that,

“You can’t write poetry on a computer.”

I appreciate his loyalty to the ideals of romanticism but, looking at it axiomatically, he chose to say “computer” and not anything else (although don’t ask me what “anything else” could be). What does a computer do to effectively reduce the “poeticness” of a poem? What is it about an electronically supplied numerical input and an electromagnetically generated visual output that is beaten by a leaky fountain pen and paper that crumbles at the lightest touch-or should I say that it is a matter of individual investment and computers limit that when they shouldn’t? I don’t agree. If anything, typewriters and computers make it easier to compose real poetry: poetry that is completely independent of its medium, poetry that finds it rational to reflect only the literary prowess and emotional content of the individual (objective) and not his/her association with the oldest form of literary communication (subjective).

Poetry, you see, is an abstraction just like beauty and justice are, and if Tarantino thinks he can’t find them in a computer or only on a piece of paper, then it’s also unfortunately obvious that his films are a product of iconoclastic ideals and the chance of the occasion that I was to be born in 1988, and that doesn’t happen often.

Our individual attitude towards technology does not change the way technology itself behaves; it only changes how much we think it can do for us when we take to it-and this applies even to the tech that is constantly being upgraded and modified to satiate different needs. Similarly, poetry that requires a “non-computer” to be realized is not poetry but what we think is poetry: it is subjective interpretation, one that fails in the face of the slightest opposition, and therefore cannot withstand the test of time.

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The fifth traveler

At the edge of civilization,
Where it was raining day and night,
We decided to bury our our feud and join
Each other on the road thereafter.
Now John he was a guitarist
And struck up a tune
That traveled with us as the fourth traveler;
The sound of its music was like the rain,
Trespassing our loneliness like a silent killer.

As we walked we saw an old man
Sitting in a raincoat ‘neath a tree:
He lit up a cold smoke.
Its orange light swam the wrinkles of his hand.
He looked long at us searching for an open ear
Into which he’d crawl to escape the shifting sands.

But we had no time for talk or play
Even though we had nowhere to go
Because each of us knew
That he was in a place where he’d like to stay,
Where the knowing silence of death stalked us,
And the temples were where we wanted to pray.

Gently we came upon a fallen tree,
Uprooted by the fury of an ancient storm,
Its leaves and boughs scattered.
Our journey seemed over in that shadowy sea,
And we rested our backs against the wood,
Finally with that silent surrender becoming free.

And John he finally let his eyes weep
For the loss of a friend long ago;
We tried to hold him down.
His sorrow in the dark was our treasure to keep;
He smashed his guitar there and fell down crying,
And there we lay fear our fifth traveler to sleep.

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Not tonight, I’m working.

Did you know the hills have to wait when I’m playing?
Because I don’t have the time to watch them grow.
Did you know the rain has to wait when I’m playing?
Because I don’t have the time to watch it flow.
Did you know the match has to wait when I’m playing?
Because I don’t have the time to watch it glow.
Did you know all the doors have to wait when I’m playing?
Because I don’t have the time to shut them close.
Did you know the hills and the rain and the match
And the doors and the floors and the walls
Are so clean and praise not the blight of a scratch
Simply because I never played in their halls?