Considering Numerology in Creative Writing & The Alternative by Rose Palma

In contemporary poetry, roman numerals are a common method of adding underdeveloped depth. The employment of these little symbols can be meant mirror the progression of time, or allude to a partial narrative, but most often they are merely thrown around carelessly. For the senior thesis, I worked around this literary strategy, for the reasons listed previously, and also according to my own personal preference. (Although I refrain from using numerology liberally, I’m not completely against sparing utilization of the device, in the case of an index or perhaps the occasional piece of poetry).

I believe the most likely culprit of this device is trying to portray a series – so I will express the disadvantages of this technique. My thesis consists of several series, with continuing characters and themes, and thus the pieces blend together without strict instruction. I find that, if I were to use numerology in this context, the six or so pieces would feel redundant and elongated like that of an ancient epic poem. In almost every circumstance, roman numerals weaken the content of each stanza.

In fiction, an alternative is the usage of various short titles which divide the sections of narrative. “When They Came To Us” by Debbie Urbanski is an example of this strategy. Urbanski’s short story, which is a piece of speculative fiction, avoids constructing unnecessary vagueness by introducing brief section titles. The vignettes are thus braided together… with a brief and nonrestrictive indication of time progression.

Rose Palma, class of 2018

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