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“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Headstuff. Its mission: to explore strange new literary forms, to seek out new poems and new writing, to boldly go where no-one has gone before.”
La-laah, la-la-la, la-la-la, la-laaaaah
Yep, it’s National Space Week (3-8 October) and here at Headstuff poetry, we’re getting in on the action by sharing some favourite poems that are literally out of this world.
If you’re the kind of person who would normally skedaddle from a sonnet, hot-foot it from a haiku or body-swerve blank verse, we’re here to change your mind. Take a fresh look at both poetry and the universe with our selections below.
(click titles to read full poems)
In 1988, a study determined Pluto’s orbit could never accurately be predicted and was described as ‘chaotic’. It was demoted from planet status in 2006 and in Fatimah Asghar’s poem, Pluto hits back:
‘Today, I broke your solar system. Oops.
My bad. Your graph said I was supposed
to make a nice little loop around the sun.
I chaos like a motherfucker.’
Source: Poetry (April 2015) (via poetryfoundation.org)
BIlly Colllins gives us the unintended consequences of mansplaining (twenty years before it became a thing) with the aid of 1950’s sci-fi B-movies:
‘All you have to do is listen to the way a man
sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people…
and you will know why the women in science
fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own
are not pictured making a salad…’
Source: The Art of Drowning (1995) (via poetryfoundation.org)
In Denise Duhamel’s poem, a school student tries to wrap their head around Galileo and their place in the universe:
‘I just didn’t get it—
even with the teacher holding an orange (the earth) in one hand
and a lemon (the moon) in the other,
her favorite student (the sun) standing behind her with a flashlight.
I just couldn’t grasp it—
this whole citrus universe, these bumpy planets revolving so slowly
no one could even see themselves moving.’
Source: Queen for a Day (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001) (via poetryfoundation.org)
Galway Kinnell’s beautiful list poem gives us evidence of gravity – the unseen force upon which all life on our planet depends:
‘In the wings of the Eskimo curlew
flapping through the thin air of the Andes,
in the sacral vertebrae of the widow
who stoops at the window to peer
behind the drawn blind, in the saggy skin
under the eyes of the woman
who is in love with a man incapable
Source: The New Yorker (Jan 20, 2014)
Read more about Space Week on Headstuff.