Wild Geeks: Poetry in the Digital Age


Maybe you've always wondered what bridges poetry and tech writing, maybe you already know, or maybe you’re thinking about it now for the first time. In this talk, I will discuss how the two disciplines of poetry and technical writing are the Gemini twins of the Digital Age. As a lifelong student, reader, writer, and lover of all things poetry, I realized early in my academic career that poetry is what I wanted. I didn’t know how I wanted it, but I wanted it. When I was finally approached with the opportunity to be a Technical Writer, I knew it would be a good fit, but I never imagined the interdisciplinary overlap. As a Technical Writer of user documentation I bring poetry into my work every single day. I’m reminded of a poem, a poet, a writer, a theme, a purposeful misspelling, and I see a commonality.

These are some of the similarities I’m reminded of the most, and what I’ll be presenting in my talk:

  • Creatives & Tech writers: Brief, biographical information on well-known creatives who were once Technical Writers. The list may include: Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Pynchon, George Saunders, and Amy Tan.
  • Themes & style guides: “The Crocodile” by Lewis Carroll and its adherence to a poetic theme. Both poetic themes and style guides are important tools for standardizing tone, diction, and organization for writers.
  • Form & structure “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r” by e e cummings and the importance of form on a page. This poem uses negative space and unique formatting to add meaning to the content, while the structure of user documentation is vital to the content within any article.
  • Poetry & work: “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver and the beauty of reality, making mistakes, and using your imagination to find your place “in the family of things”.

This talk is for people who are interested in dissecting the similarities between poetry and technical writing, and who strive to keep their creative brains enabled in their daily work.

  • Conference: Write the Docs PRAGUE
  • Year: 2019

About the speaker

Ellie Farrier