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Definition Poetry: #YourClimateStory 3

Read this famous poem by Emily Dickinson.

This poem can be read as a sort of “definition poem”, in which Dickinson takes an abstract concept and by applying a specific metaphor and image to it, portrays in it a new light. In doing so, she illustrates the relevance of the concept of hope, explores her personal connection with it, and makes an abstract concept more tangible, vivid, and memorable.

In the same vein, we encourage you to write a “definition poem” using concepts from climate science.

1. Know the science: Your definition poems may explore personal connections with climate science concepts, but they must be grounded in accurate scientific knowledge. Our aim is to make science more accessible and personal, but not at the cost of accuracy and validity. Therefore, before writing your poem, fully familiarise yourself with some key climate science concepts and make sure that you depict them accurately in your work. Here are some resources that we think will help:

2. Choose a term: Go through these lists, and choose one specific term or concept you wish to deal with in your work.

3. Engage with the term:

  1. Choose an extended metaphor or concrete image to explain and capture this concept or phenomenon, the way Dickinson uses the metaphor of a bird to describe hope.

  2. For example, you may choose the term ‘ecosystem’, and then explore it using the image of a cobweb to highlight the interconnectedness of the various parts of an ecosystem.

  3. Explore what does this term mean to you: Engage with this concept at a personal level.

    1. You may choose to weave a personal story or anecdote in your poem to bring out its relevance to you.

    2. You may also describe the feelings, ideas, images, and thoughts that pop into your mind when you think of this term.

Most importantly, keep in mind the fact that we want to see what you think of and feel about the particular concept you have chosen. We encourage thoughtful, personal, imaginative work that transcends the borders between science and creativity and is, at the same time, rooted in accurate facts and data.

Sources and Further Reading:

Read more about Dickinson’s poem, ‘Hope is a thing with feathers’:

Explore the relationship between science and the imagination here:

Feeling inspired by this resource? Craft your piece and send it to us at by 30th September, 2022 as part of our #YourClimateStory project. Please make sure to read the detailed instructions here first.

We will be uploading new resources soon, so join our mailing list to stay in the loop!

Tell us what you think about this idea in the comments section below. We would love to get to know your thoughts and ideas!

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