Why I Write Poetry Using Scientific Or Taboo Terms
I do not eschew—in fact love—using scientific and ‘taboo words’ in my poetry. I think they are a largely unexploited resource for the poet.
So called ‘taboo words’ have begun to be used by some poets, most recently by performance poets. Their appeal lies in their power to evoke strong emotions, which is why many people only use them in highly emotional situations, such as banging their thumb with a hammer or losing their temper—or even to express delight. I remember a guy I knew who used to express his delight with making a successful horseshoe throw by yelling, “Beau-tee-fucking-ful!” (Of course, some people trivialize them by using them constantly, even as adjectival filler in their speech, with “fucking” preceding every noun.)
Scientific terms are used less frequently. I have a passion for science (and philosophy). Many scientific terms have a resonance for me and are rich with connotation. I find this especially true of cosmological and neurological terms. For me at least, words such as “dark energy” or “amygdala” are loaded with fascinating and emotional associations.
However, there is no question that using either is risky, because it can alienate many readers. Much of this reaction is based on misconceptions of what poetry is and false beliefs about restrictions that should be put on it. All I can say is, “That’s fucking stupid!”