Soft Science

By Franny Choi


Hello and welcome to our poetic journey! 📖✨ Today, we’re diving into “Soft Science” by Franny Choi, a collection that beautifully stitches together the fibers of technology and tender human emotion.

Franny Choi is a poet acclaimed for her unique voice and insightful commentary on identity, technology, and the intersections of personal and public spheres. Her work often delves into the complexities of living as a queer, Korean-American woman, navigating through the overlapping layers of these identities.

“Soft Science,” published in 2019, is a collection that extends from her previous explorations but pushes further into the realms of cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and the deeply personal. It’s categorized as a part of speculative poetry, a genre that uses fantastical and science fiction elements to explore new perspectives on modern issues.

Meaning of Soft Science

The title “Soft Science” is a play on words, where Choi explores themes traditionally seen as ‘soft,’ like emotions and personal identity, through the ‘hard’ lens of science and technology. Let’s break down the poem into three parts to understand its depth and breadth:

1) Opening Section

  • The opening lines of the poem set the stage for a deeply personal yet universally relatable journey. Choi uses imagery that connects the biological with the mechanical, possibly reflecting on how technology becomes an extension of ourselves.

2) Mid Section

  • In the middle sections, Choi often dives deeper into the heart of her thematic exploration. Here, the verses might blend the technical jargon of robotics with the fluid, unpredictable nature of human emotions, suggesting a merging of human and machine.

3) Concluding Section

  • The conclusion likely brings a resolution or a reflection that either reconciles or further questions the relationship between the human self and the technological other. This part might leave the reader with poignant imagery or a powerful statement that resonates with the overarching themes of the collection.

Throughout, Choi’s use of specific verses serves to anchor the reader’s understanding of these themes, demonstrating her mastery in weaving complex narratives through succinct, powerful language.

In-depth Analysis

Let’s dissect the stanzas and literary techniques Franny Choi employs in “Soft Science” to create a rich, textured landscape of ideas and emotions:

  • Imagery — Choi’s vivid descriptions blend the organic with the artificial, creating visuals that stick with readers and evoke deep emotional responses.
  • Syntax and Diction — The poem’s structure and word choice are meticulously crafted to mirror the themes of merging worlds, often using technical language juxtaposed with more fluid, lyrical phrases.
  • Figurative Language — Metaphors and similes bridge the gap between the human and the mechanical, illustrating complex emotions through the lens of science and technology.

Each stanza, theme, and symbol in “Soft Science” is carefully constructed to layer meaning, challenging the reader to delve deeper into the text.

Poetic Devices used in Soft Science

Device NameExample
Alliteration“Silicon, synapses…”
Assonance“Beam me back…”
Consonance“Lost love, last login…”
EnjambmentContinuous over multiple lines
Metaphor“Wires as veins…”
Simile“Like circuits sparking…”
Personification“The computer weeps…”
Onomatopoeia“Buzz, click…”
Hyperbole“Infinite bytes of sadness…”
Symbolism“Screens glow as minds…”

Soft Science – FAQs

Q: What is the main theme of ‘Soft Science’ by Franny Choi? A: The main theme revolves around the intersection of technology and human emotion, exploring how digital and mechanical elements can mirror and influence the human condition.

Q: How does Franny Choi use form in her poetry? A: Choi often utilizes free verse, allowing the content to shape the form, which reflects the fluidity and unpredictability of the themes she explores, such as identity and technology.

Q: What can students learn from ‘Soft Science’? A: Students can learn about the integration of contemporary issues with poetic forms, the innovative use of language to bridge diverse themes, and the emotional depth that poetry can reach even when discussing technological topics.

Soft Science Study Guide

Let’s practice identifying poetic devices in a verse from “Soft Science.” Here’s a simple exercise to help students enhance their analytical skills:

Verse provided: “The server hums a tune, data dancing in its head.”

Task: List all the poetic devices used in the above verse.


  • Personification — “The server hums a tune”
  • Metaphor — “data dancing in its head”

This exercise encourages students to pay close attention to the language and techniques used, helping them develop a deeper understanding of poetic analysis.