Margaret Rhee Recommends...

“Most times, writing a poem does not require research. Drawing from personal experiences, observations, and emotions, a poem can hold the everyday. Yet, at other times, I’ve learned that research can be a tool to ignite unexpected, needed turns in your poetry. When I was writing my book Love, Robot, a collection where humans and robots fall in and out of love, I was researching heavily in robotics for a scholarly project. While the poems helped me express the emotional questions I had about robots, the research helped prompt experimentation with narrative and form as I began to include algorithmic code as poetry, for example. Research doesn’t only have to be reading, it can also be physical. I played with robotics by making and tinkering with electronics. The kinetic experience of soldering for the first time, also ignited my imagination for the collection. Other poetry books drawn from research include Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems (Knopf, 2015) by Robin Coste Lewis, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets (Wave Books, 2009), and Bhanu Kapil’s Humanimal: A Project for Future Children (Kelsey Street Press, 2009). Sometimes, a poem can come just by way of the quiet, a long walk, a dream. Sometimes, research can be just the thing that helps your poems get to where they want to go.”
—Margaret Rhee, author of Love, Robot (The Operating System, 2017)