top of page

Dense Writer

Writing is a skill, but not one confined to the world of academia. Many forms of literature are available to provide the writer with different challenges and opportunities to express themselves. In “Dense Writer” Jenny Knight compares the rigour of academic thesis to the comparative freedom of poetry. The dilemma, a 2007 study cited in concluded that “half of academic papers are read only by their authors and journal editors” (Eveleth, 2014).

The ultimate skill in writing is getting someone to read what you write and for it to have an effect on how they perceive the world and their actions. Writing should be as accessible as Jenny’s poem is. Consider Jenny’s words and then consider writing a poem to express how you feel, and get it read here and now.

'Dense writer' (The dilemma of writing for academia)

My writing is dense It will only make sense With deep concentration And justification For all I have said Based on what I have read In the books on the floor And the articles for The clever ones, who Take a stand, have a view.

Do I have any views? Will they come if I muse? Cogitate, ruminate Complicate, obfuscate Come up with some data Statistics, for later Some numbers, a chart For taking apart In pursuit of a notion, A thesis, promotion.

Of ideas, a theory No matter how dreary My head aches with thinking My spirit is sinking I know how it goes Because everyone knows Something more, something new So whatever I do It will not be enough I’ll have left out some stuff.

Wash the floor? Make a cake? Have a strategic break? No! Stay glued to the screen Just don’t say what I mean Dress it up, make words long They can’t tell me I’m wrong If I elaborate Make it so intricate Inaccessible prose To get right up his nose.

The reviewer, that is I’ll get him in a tizz As I reach for the skies Hypothesis-wise My conclusions cut deep

Review them and weep: If we write in this way Having something to say It will never be read Write a poem, instead.

(Jenny Knight 2012)


More people are writing and thinking about work based poetry. Does this poem make you think of anything? Send your thoughts to

Please do send a poem you’ve written or one you like and we’ll share it with other WorkInWord readers.

Image: Paining by Pablo Picasso 'Claude Writing'

bottom of page