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 poet and critic Makoto Ooka, is by now known and practiced almost worldwide. Space Poem Chain Vol. 3 will be compiled under the supervision of Mr. Ooka, 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 the Kibo module of the ISS by Astronaut Koichi Wakata.
For the third phase (September 5, 2008 to February 27, 2009), we again look forward to a 24-poem Space Poem Chain. Expressing thoughts and feelings about the universe and life in poetry, we hope 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, this year we are adding a comment corner which will explain the choices of poems and add thoughts about the next poem to come. Other features include:
* Under the supervision of Makoto Ooka, the poems will be selected by the poet Nomura Kiwao, who will also write the comment corner.
*Young poets from Japan and abroad will be invited, and the circle of contributors widened.
* Through a hook-up with NHK International we hope to broadcast in 18 languages.
* We plan to solicit contributions from JAXA astronauts who are staying longterm on the Kibo module of the ISS for the first time.
* We plan to encourage use of the Space Poem Chain in planetariums and schools as one of the public events of International Year of Astronomy 2009.
* After the completed Space Poem Chain debuts at the Space Poem Chain Symposium, it will be launched into space and stored aboard the Kibo module of the ISS in 2009.
* In September 2008, the book Space Poem Chains will be published under the auspices of JAXA. The history of the space poem project from 2002 on will be introduced, including the first Space Poem Chain, gLife on Earth,h which was compiled in 2003 and whose first poem was contributed by Astronaut Mamoru Mohri.