Japanese

The 25th link

Afloat in the darkness before my eyes, the watery planet bluely glows
How strong is my affection for that ancient home of ours,
how deep my gratitude for the gift of life
Tomorrow, I will dare the blue sky and open up worlds unknown
for there we have our dreams

Wakata Koichi (astronaut, Japan)

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the 26th link

Once again we are innocent newborns
infants tied by the umbilical cords of our invisible souls to this star, our home
seeking the answer hidden in the faroff distance, asking, asking, without end

Shuntaro Tanikawa (poet, Japan)

Judge's commen

2009/4/10
The composition of links 25 and 26 were planned as the biggest events of the Third Space Poem Chain. This is because Astronaut Wakata wrote his poem, link 25, on board the international space station "Kibo," or Hope and sent it to the Earth anchor Shuntaro Tanikawa (whose nickname is Man from Outer Space). I was present at that "historical moment," so here is a brief report.

The time was a little past 3 o'clock on the morning of March 31. On the screen of the main monitor in the operations room of the Tsukuba Space Center, where the interior of the space shuttle is constantly projected, Wakata-san swam into view, holding a sheet of paper and in his zero-gravity state, began to write something. When he had finished, he held the paper up to the camera and then, in a calm and composed voice, read it aloud. This was the 25th link; it may very well be the first poem ever written by a human being in outer space. Only an astronaut could have written from this point of view. There is a kind of grandeur in its simplicity, calling us back to first things. Wakata-san, many many thanks!

In the operations room of the Tsukuba Space Center, I took down Wakata-san's poem while watching the monitor and playing back the sound recording, then immediately made a clean copy and faxed it to "The Man from Outer Space in Suginami" with the note "Tanikawa-san, A poem has arrived for you from outer space." Tanikawa-san replied the same day and thus the Third Space Poem Chain was completed.

As you can see, the poem makes a perfect ending. Like the 25th link, there is no need for explication, but for me it brings to mind the last scene of the film classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the "Star-Child," a fetus-like being that symbolizes the unknown, floats next to Earth.

Have you enjoyed this verbal relay as it evolved over the past several months? No less a person than Tanikawa-san himself once said, "Chain poems are not for reading or interpreting, but for participating in." As a judge, my greatest joy would be for all you participants to expand the circle of linked poetry in your countries throughout the world.

Kiwao Nomura

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News

2010/3/19
Astronaut Soichi Noguchi has received a Space Poem Chain DVD disk from the earth. The DVD disk contains JAXA Space Poem Chain Vol.3 and Space Poem Chains composed at schools and regional communities. Please enjoy watching the ISS, a brilliant star briliant star in the sky. Thank you for joining the project. Good Luck!
2009/5/12
To commemorate the completion of Vol. 3 of the Space Poem Chain, we will hold a symposium on May 25, 2009, for which we will begin to accept applications on May 12.
More information about the symposium is here.
We look forward to many people attending.

2009/4/10
For the 25th link, the Japanese astronaut Mr. Koichi Wakata has contributed a poem while in orbit.
You can find the movie from here.
His profile is here.
For the 26th and final link, the Japanese poet Mr. Shuntaro Tanikawa has contributed a poem.
His profile is here.

With the 26th link, the Third Space Poem Chain has been completed. During its making, we received a total of 761 entries from all over the world. Some were from people who participated every time, some from those who participated as families, some from those who entered with friends, some from those who participated as a school or a group. There were participants from Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Finland, France, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Saipan, Switzerland, the USA and Uzbekistan.

We extend our thanks to all those who participated in the Space Poem Chain and visited this site.


2009/4/1
On March 31, Japanese Astronaut Koichi Wakata has returned the 25th link from the ISS's Japanese Experimental Module Kibo ("Hope") to Earth. Mr. Kiwao Nomura, the judge of the Space Poem Chain, received the 25th link at JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. For the 26th link, the last link, we are inviting Shuntaro Tanikawa to contribute a poem. We will announce the 25th and 26th links on April 10 here.

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