January 18, 2008

Almost as Romantic as a Holophoner

There are stars inside me
When I think about things from way way before
my whole body goes tingly
No doubt it's the stars, reminded of things
before they entered me, whooping it up.

— Yasunori Matugawa, Director, JAXA Space Education Center

What a freakin' sweet idea. The Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) is inviting submissions for a poem chain that will be compiled and flown to the International Space Station. JAXA writes on its website:

"The Space Poem Chain is the expression of our wish for chain poetry to become a cooperative space in which everyone can think together about the universe, about the earth, and about life, transcending boundaries of nation, culture, generations, specializations, and roles."

The first round of 24 poems has been recorded and will be sent up in February. The lines above make up the first submission for the second round, which has the theme "There are Stars."

It's a beautiful way of acknowledging that all people are actually made of stardust. At its start the universe was all hydrogen and helium—it took stars to provide the fusion engines that created heavier elements, including those necessary for life.

When the first stars went supernova, they seeded the cosmos with the ingredients for the galaxies, planets, comets, asteroids, etc. we see today.

Anyone from anywhere can submit a poem for the JAXA chain. The basic rules are:

#1) The Space Poem Chain is formed from the alternating repetition of 5 line and 3 line poems. If the immediately preceding poem is 5 lines, then the next is 3; if the immediately preceding poem is 3 lines, then the next is 5.

#2) The starting point of your own poem should be a word or a line from the immediately preceding poem.

The 22nd poem in the current chain is a three-line beauty from a man in Nepal. I'm gonna go ruminate over lunch and see what I would submit for Poem #23... will share when ready.

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