April 2019 Limerick Project

Theoretical Yield

“A frame for chem concepts, aesthetic, 
Was the goal of my April, poetic: 
A shift in perspective 
Through verses connective. 
Thus ends month’s endeavor, synthetic.”  

The 30 April 2019 limerick was the last in this particular project, which examined specifically the overlap of National Poetry Month and the International Year of the Periodic Table.  Though I’ve written several chemistry poems via the same Twitter account since last spring, this initial month was the most cohesive, both in focus and in form: a set of thirty limericks, examining the overlap of chemistry and poetry, five lines at a time.  

“A frame for chem concepts, aesthetic, / 
Was the goal of my April, poetic…”
This was a daunting project for me to start.  As I mentioned in the first entry on this website, creative writing has always been an interest of mine, but my academic writing, especially as it pertains to my courses, is primarily informative by design.  (Introductory chemistry material is challenging enough when presented in clearly written sentences.)    

However, April is National Poetry Month, and 2019 was UNESCO’s International Year of the Periodic Table.  The confluence of these two events, combined with the constraints of the Twitter format (280 characters maximum), provided enough inspiration and structure to begin: the “frame… aesthetic” alluded to in the first line.  

“A shift in perspective /
Through verses connective. /
Thus ends month’s endeavor, synthetic.”
The through-line of the limerick form— via “verses connective”—was particularly useful for me in this project.  First of all, the limerick is a brief poem: five lines, which never ran close to the 280-character limit (even as my number of hashtags increased!).  Second, since a limerick is by definition a type of light verse, its use helped me highlight these poems as primarily entertaining; this in turn alleviated my worries about their lack of technical precision.  Combined, these effects enabled me to focus on identifying concepts, stories, and techniques that I could describe in this format, looking for “shift[s] in perspective.” 

The concept of an “endeavor, synthetic” is another resonant one, with its complex and intertwined echoes for chemistry, language, and education.  This was a rewarding project, yielding a new understanding of how I can approach my subject, and I’ve enjoyed continuing similar efforts in the year since.