Poetry Versus Prose: a Visual Experiment

Thanks to Jason for turning me on to Wordle. It’s a simple program designed to take in text, and spit out attractive word clouds.

My MFA Thesis consists of three parts: a book-length collection of poems, an essay on Seamus Heaney, and a bibliography. According to the Wordle website, “If you do not save your Wordle to the gallery, no information leaves your workstation at any time.” So, I felt comfortable pasting the culmination of two years of hard work in to the site.

First, the essay:

Then, the poems:

As you can see, even though I generated them with different coloring, the word clouds still have a unique impact based on the words alone. Whereas the essay is dominated by a few words, my poems are swarming with numerous smaller words (i.e. less frequently repeated)–and, of course, “like” reigns supreme over my similes.

Just walking my eyes over the clusters of different-sized words is itself a somewhat poetic experience, akin to the hybrid art of visual poetry. So, there you have it–all the words of my creative thesis (minus the bibliography), de-duped and laid out for your delectation. Hmm… “delectation”… now there’s a word I should use more often!