From the beginning of recorded time, the skies above have been sometimes a field on which human beings painted their dreams, sometimes a mirror for our own lives. Today, when scientific progress continues to unravel the worldfs mysteries one by one, the skies above, extending to outer space, continue to inspire in us a limitless curiosity and at the same time school us in an awe for the infinite. The Space Poem Chain is an attempt to create a collaborative place through glinked verseh by thinking together about the universe, Earth, and life itself, unfettered by barriers of nation, culture, generation, profession, and position or rank.
Chain poetry itself (renshi), a form developed from traditional Japanese linked verse (renga and renku) by the members of Kai group, including poet and critic Makoto Ooka, poet Shuntaro Tanikawa, is by now known and practiced almost worldwide. Space Poem Chain Vol. 3 was compiled under the supervision of Mr. Ooka and contribution by Mr. Tanikawa, on the basis of entries from the general public contributed over the internet, combined with contributions from poets and other cultural figures.
During the first phase (October 2006 - March 2007) we combined public submissions and contributions over a half-year period to create a sequence 24 poems long. The first poem was contributed by the JAXA Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, and after that we received submissions from approximately 800 people, from both Japan and abroad; contributors ranged in age from 8 to 98. Planetariums and schools also began to incorporate the Space Poem Chain into their own programs. The completed poem chain was read at the Space Poem Chain Symposium and then recorded on a DVD, which was entrusted to Astronaut Takao Doi in March 2008 and stored in the International Space Station's Japanese Experimental Module Kibo ("Hope"). While the Space Station was in orbit Astronaut Doi took a commemorative photograph of the DVD.
During the second phase (July 6, 2007 to February 8, 2008), we compiled a Space Poem Chain of 24 poems titled gThere are Stars.h Among the contributors were poets from Asia and the Pacific region, and we had submissions from people in many countries around the world as well. We also saw an increase in the number of planetariums and schools in Japan and abroad who integrated the Space Poem Chain into their curriculums. Now that the completed 24 poem chain has been made public at the Space Poem Chain symposium, we look forward to it being uploaded and stored on Kibo by Astronaut Koichi Wakata.
During the third phase (September 5, 2008 to April 10, 2009), we again looked forward to a 24-poem Space Poem Chain. Expressing thoughts and feelings about the universe and life in poetry, we hoped to create a space in which imagination can flourish. Fortunately, linked verse, growing as it does out of a collaborative interweaving of minds, has an organic quality which lends itself well to these aims. In order to help the process along, we added a comment corner which will explain the choices of poems and add thoughts about the next poem to come. We invited youg poets and Koichi Wakata, JAXA astonauts aboard Kibo during the long-term expeditions. This is the very first mission to compile the Space Poen Chain with astronauts aborod, and the mission was successfuly acomplished. Many people enjoyed the Wakatasn's video images report from Kibo.
For the fourth phase (FY 2010), we invite Ryoko Shindo, poet as a supervisor and are planning to compile a Space Poem Chain incorporating verses written by chiledrens and adults. We would like to explore the universe in children and/or chilren's universe, lead by them. The completed Space Poem Chain will be launched in FY 2011.