Advice For Poets 16: Small Ways Writers (and Readers) Can Utilise Google

As the world’s leading search engine, Google is always trying to improve how it returns reacts to our requests for information. Recently this has involved trying to give us the information we are looking for in the actual search results, with a little less emphasis on directing us away from Google products.

There are loads of cool ways that Google helps us interact with information right in their search results, from reviews to hotel/flight bookings to playing games so we’ve compiled a few that you, as readers and writers of poetry and fiction, may find useful.

Google Translate

Sometimes author’s will pop chunks of text or dialogue into their books in other languages. Most of the time, not understanding them isn’t going to massively impair your enjoyment, but there’ an easy way to check online if you’re curious. You can search Google for a translation service, but a quicker way is to just search on the normal Google search engine for ‘translate *your phrase*’ and the translation will pop right up in your search results.

If you’re looking for words in other languages to use in your own creative writing then you’re probably better off looking for single words, preferably nouns rather than verbs where the tenses may get lost in translation, or short and simple phrases. Google Translate is good, but it’s not quite up to speed with the finer points of most languages.

Google Booksgoogle books

If you are, or have recently been, a student then we’d be shocked if you didn’t already know this! A lot of books, especially older ones that are out of copyright, are available on Google Books to browse either in their entirety or in small sections, entirely for free. The downside is you of course need to be connected to the internet to access them, but it can be really useful for research purposes whether you’re writing poetry, fiction, non-fiction or academic works.

To access it, either click ‘Books’ under the search bar or go to books.google.co.uk (or the equivalent for your country.)

Definitions

Simply add the word ‘define’ before you put in the word and Google will pull a snippet from a dictionary and save you a few clicks.

Numbers, Conversions, Currency

I have used the currency converter when writing fiction about other countries and the measurements converter when talking about the recent past (inches instead of centimeters!)

If you’re in the flow of writing and need a quick answer so you can get right back to it, use Google rather than navigating to a new site. This is about phrasing your question clearly, and Google will pick up what you require. Keep your queries simple and clear – type ‘convert 6 foot into centimetres’ or ‘100 British pounds in euros’ for an immediate answer. You can also use it as a calculator by just typing in your sum.

Hopefully these tips will help you with your creative writing pursuits. If you find yourself writing a well researched poetic masterpiece with your new search engine knowledge, then perhaps you’d consider submitting it for inclusion in our charity poetry anthologyIf you are looking for more Google tips then you can always just, you know, Google them!

Of course, if you’re not in the mood for reading or writing right now than that’s okay – you can always search for ‘do a barrel roll’ and have a little chuckle.

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Advice for Poets 15: Words Of Wisdom From Writers

We’ve been writing these ‘Advice for poets’ blogs because we want to help everyone out there develop into the best writers they can be. We hope that doesn’t make us sound arrogant – it’s a lot easier to write about writing than it is to actually churn out poetry, honest! Even if we couldn’t give always give you solid advice, we wanted to get you thinking and talking about poetry and how we craft it. We’d like to present some of the best pieces of advice we could find from some of the writers out there, because even though you don’t have to follow our advice, surely you know you can trust theirs?! (And we promise we won’t say ‘write what you know’.) Continue reading

World Science Day | ‘I Am Become Death, The Destroyer Of Worlds’

Yes, really – the tenth of November was declared World Science day back in 2001.

We’ve been a little quiet here at The Wait – life’s been getting in the way a little! – but we love a bit of science along with our literature, so World Science Day inspired us into writing a blog about an oft-quoted (misquoted) line from the epic Hindu poem the Bhagavad Gita, especially considering the World Science Day was designated in order to open up discussions about how to use science to strive for peace and unity.

In 1947, the first atomic bomb was tested. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the laboratory, witnessed the detonation and later said that he was reminded of a passage from the sacred poetic text:

‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’

image

The moment and the passage has become significant to anyone pondering the destructive tendencies of mankind – the seeming regret and awe that Oppenheimer shows when he witnesses his team’s handiwork resonates deeply with anyone pondering the power that science can wield.

Misquote

Sorry, folks: Oppenheimer was actually misquoting the sacred poem. What the god Krishna actually said was this:

I am all-powerful Time which destroys all things, and I have come here to slay these men. Even if thou doest not fight, all the warriors facing thee shall die.

This is just one translation – changing from the ancient Hindu script into plain English is not an easy task, especially considering the blurred lines between the translation of ‘death’ and ‘time’. This part of the poem however appears to be a discussion of the inevitability of death, as even if the warriors mentioned do not die in battle, time will catch up with them in the end. The passage of time, that leads to a natural death for all men, is personified into an immediate, destructive force.

So, now you know. However, just because Oppenheimer was ‘technically’ misquoting the Bhagavad Gita, don’t let that stop you from appreciating the significance of the moment in history – Oppenheimer’s exclamation was a hell of a lot more poetic than, say, ‘oh crap what have I done?!’

5 Groovy Poetic Terms – Use To Impress

Just a short, lighthearted blog for you today – we’ve compiled a mini dictionary of 5 new poetic or linguistic terms that you can drop into your next intellectual conversation about poetry. Enjoy.

Doggerel

A poetic form that is so bad it’s hilarious, often unintentionally. Research William McGonagall if this is your bag, you won’t be disappointed.

Palinode

This is a piece that retracts a statement or view that the poet has previously expressed. So if Sir Mix A Lot wrote a song about how much he likes skinny girls with tiny butts, that would kind of be a palinode. Kind of.

Lampoon/Invective 

A poem that ridicules, mocks or attacks it’s subject. A bit like intellectual trolling.

Gnomic Verse

This gloriously named poetic form is actually nothing like it sounds like it should be. They are short poems with a moral or proverb embedded into them.

The seriousness is almost disappointing, isn’t it…

Hamartia 

A fancier way of saying ‘tragic flaw’. Use to look smart in Shakespeare discussions.

Even if you don’t need to pop in buzz-words to look smart, isn’t it nice to know that ‘gnomic verse’ is a thing?! If you’ve enjoyed this mini-blog then please check out our archives and maybe consider following us – we’ve got a charity poetry collection going on sale very soon, ALL proceeds to Cancer Research UK, so any follows and support is much appreciated!

Advice for Poets 14: How To Write A ‘Real’ Haiku

A haiku that conforms to the basic scheme in terms of the lines and syllables is a real achievement – the scheme is so restrictive and the poem length so short that to successfully convey a story or idea is impressive. They’re nice to read because they’re short and often witty or surprising.

However, there are a few more restrictions involved in the original form that it might be interesting for a poet to try to tackle. In fact, a few of our contributors have tackled this highly skilled poetic form in our upcoming book of poetry for sale called ‘The Wait’. Have a look at our very brief into the the haiku and see how hard they really worked. Continue reading

Advice For Poets 13: Making The Unfamiliar, Familiar

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects 
be as if they were not familiar.
– Percy Bysshe Shelley


The numeric accident of this creative writing advice article landing on number 13 seems like an excellent opportunity to discuss the side of poetry so well summed up in this quote from Percy Shelley – the uncanny, the creepy, the indefinable shivers up the spine you get from a really good metaphor or an unexpected linguistic twist. Continue reading

5 Great Smackdown Comebacks For When Some Idiot Says ‘Poetry Is Dead’

Easy fundraising with poetry for cancer research

My friends, poetry is not dead. However, sometimes, when you’re confronted with someone claiming this, it’s real hard to reply – sometimes it just seems so OBVIOUS to you that they’re wrong that coherent sentences evade you. We’ve been there. It’s not cool when you’re a Literature-y type and you can’t make the words come out.

So, to prepare you for the next time, we’ve come up with some comebacks to store up in your mind tank, ready to whip out and defend your art. Continue reading

Are Song Lyrics Poetry?

Well, before this blog post even begins, we guess it’s necessary to point out that everyone is entitled to their opinion – if you feel strongly either way, we’d love you to let us know!

Photo by Meg / CC BY NAME
Photo by Meg / CC BY NAME

While we understand that there are, of course, differences between lyrics and what you immediately think of as poetry, we feel there is a strong case for accepting lyrics as a legitimate sub-category of poetry. Continue reading

Advice for Poets 12: The Finishing Touches

As the deadline for submissions to our charity project is looming (tomorrow-eek!!) we thought a great idea for the next instalment of our creative writing tips blogs would be to compile a checklist of things you should do before you submit your work/decide it’s finished. Most of them are common sense, but having a 1-2-3 guide like this is always handy when it comes down to actually doing it!

Photo by Meg / CC BY NAME
Photo by Meg / CC BY NAME

Spellcheck

The rise of slang and all kinds of new words to our language means that our accepted vocabulary is growing faster than most word processors can keep up. We’re therefore much more used to ignoring those little red squiggles than you would think – it’s very common to ignore small typos. Here at The Wait, we do it all the time, and we’d forgive you – but if you’re submitting work to a big scary publisher, you want everything to be polished to perfection! So always run a spellcheck, as well as visually check your work.

Read Aloud

Checking how it sounds out loud is the definitive way to check the flow of your piece, and make sure you haven’t made any glaring errors that your eyes have simply skimmed over.

Get Some Distance

Even if you’ve only got time to walk away for five minutes, go concentrate your brain power on something else for a while and then come back for a final check. You’re likely to pick up more that way.

Photo by Matt Wynn / CC BY NAME
Photo by Matt Wynn / CC BY NAME

Get Another Opinion

You know when you’re painting a wall and some git comes along and says ‘missed a spot’? They can see what’s wrong with the scene better than you can because they have a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ that haven’t become too used to staring at the same thing over and over. It’s the same with writing. Take advantage of a trusted friend’s fresh eyes ad ask them to look over your work.

Walk Away

French poet Paul Valery said, ‘a poem is never finished, only abandoned.’ And he’s sort of right – it does often feel that way. You have to make the judgement as to when it’s finished, or you could end up expanding, snipping and tweaking a single poem for the rest of your life! Follow the tips above and then declare the poem finished when it feels right.

We hope this helps you finish off any lingering pieces you’ve been sitting on!