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2015 Best in Literary – Preeta Gupta


“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite.”


Physicist Paul Dirac spoke these words to defend his belief that poetry and science were incompatible, a viewpoint with which I wholeheartedly disagree. In my poem titled Torque I attempt to explore the application of scientific principles in physics as they can apply to unscientific emotions of the heart.


The inspiration behind the selecting torque as the scientific principle for the foundation of my poem comes from my time as a past Physics SLC facilitator and Learning Assistant. In introductory physics classes, many of my peers and I struggled to understand torque. For clarity, I would often approach the formula T=rfsin(Ɵ) component by component, and I chose to follow a similar structure in my poem. I highlighted each element of the formula with a different color to juxtapose the overall stream-of-consciousness freestyle of the poetry with a purposeful scientific and methodical structure. The unstructured and choppier verses are intended to craft a tone of distress and anguish until the line of the poem ending in three ellipses, indicating that change is on the horizon.


I also physically structured my poem by indenting slightly with each line, to indicate the powers of torque at work as the poem gradually bends towards the right. However, when the subject in the poem chooses to follow his/her own path, the poem structure begins to twist back leftward onto a straight independent line-structure, and no longer rotates and twists from the previous force.


It is my hope that this poem, if it has achieved its purpose, is interpreted uniquely by each reader based on each individual’s life experiences. The poem essentially depicts the emotions tied to a poisonous relationship, be it a friend, an intimate partner, or object, but is ultimately anything or anybody who has a greater influence on your actions and life than they should. I greatly champion causes of domestic violence prevention and addiction awareness and I hope that this poem can shed greater light on these topics. I wish for this work to resonate with anybody who has at anytime lost their sense of purpose within the world, instead following the course outlined by others, and then finds the strength to escape restrictive confines and regain direction with renewed vigor.


Torque allows an object to rotate in any direction it chooses, and in this way it, like the heart, is very vulnerable to outside forces. But, torque can be controlled when all of the components assemble together in the right formulaic combination: (1) the displacement vector measuring the right amount of distance to keep, (2) the force vector representing the appropriate mass and acceleration, and (3) theta symbolizing the right angle, then momentous things can happen.


I also ended the poem with F=ma to close with a strong impact. The principal forces guiding our life actions should come from within, and this is what the subject realizes at the poem’s close. A new force has now been created: and it is a force to be reckoned with.