Space Poem Chain Vol.2

Message for Space Poem Chain

The inspiration for the Space Poem Chain was the idea that space is not meant to be merely something for ballistic missiles or rocket-based weapons, but that we must open it up as a place that offers a wide range of possibilities for human beings and other living creatures. In other words, it was born from the conviction that we must not use space for military purposes alone, but that we should see it as a wilderness open to a broad range of peaceful uses. I look forward with pleasure to the participation of all people of feeling.

The poem chain is an open-ended kind of poetry that aims to fuse the traditions of the classical Japanese poetic forms of renga and renku with the world of modern poetry that came to us from the West. Passing on words like batons in a relay race, it flows from one participant to the next and must enfigure the ongoing changes of life itself. The theme of the current chain is gThe Universe and Life.h While opening chain poetry, which itself is a form of organic living matter, to the universe, I hope that we will also seek out the meaning of our lives as they exist in the universe.

If one accepts the Big Bang theory, we humans who dwell on earth have the same origins as the stars. The particles which construct the universe also create us, and the waves which move the universe also move us, but we are so taken up with our everyday lives that we tend to lose the ability to feel this. From ancient times the words of poetry, together with music, have guided us to an existence beyond the human, continually hinting that we are children of the universe. The Space Poem Chain is a rocket made of words which blasts off into outer space from earth.

This world in which we live is open everywhere to outer space and no matter how shadowed by sadness, nothing can extinguish the splendor of its richness. Through poetry I want to approach the infinity that surrounds us with people I have yet to meet, and celebrate it together. I want to share with as many people as possible that sense of transcending the everyday that occurs when one weaves words into poems. For it can not be only poets who believe that we must not entrust our inquiry into the nature of the universe exclusively to science.

I came to understand the meaning of "let there be light" in the midst of the darkness of the universe. I came to understand the "origin of life" on the earth shining blue in the light of the sun. And I came to feel that what I needed was not scientific expression, but rather artistic expression, to be able to tell this to many people. I hope to share my experiences with many people on the Earth through the medium of the Space Poem Chain.

I am very honored to be able to participate in the Space Poem Chain. We, and everything that takes place in the world, are part of the universe. Therefore, space is not something faraway, but something that each of us is tied to. Through the Space Poem Chain, I hope that we can link together various thoughts of many people, and I look forward to delivering the results to space.

Haruo Saji

Haruo Saji
(President, Suzuka Junior College)

It was the English writer Oscar Wilde who said that "Nature imitates art." It seems paradoxical, but he seems to have been saying that human understanding of nature becomes possible through art which captures its essence and expresses it in a condensed way. Art is the very form of expression that allows us to directly influence the soul. If the Space Poem Chain, as a work of art, is able, thanks to the participation of ordinary citizens, to deepen humanityfs universal understanding of space, it will be a first step toward world peace.

Hiroo Inokuchi

Hiroo Inokuchi
(JAXA Advisor)

From long, long ago, many men and women of different ages composed tanka poems in their everyday lives, and enjoyed haiku. They skillfully grasped the changes in nature that made up the themes of the poetry, condensed them into short words, and expressed the thoughts that we all have. Today, as the Japanese Experiment Module is being prepared to go into operation within the International Space Station, the symbol of the space age, we hope to look at nature, which has become a step larger, in conjunction with the astronauts, and to open a new chain of relationships. This is precisely the first step that will allow humanity to become one, overcoming geographical, religious, and linguistic barriers.

The 21st century began with newspaper reports that an entire family had been murdered in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, and this is symbolic of the problems that Japan is facing today. Following the birth of the universe 13.7 billion years ago, matter slowly came together to create the first "life" on the young Earth approximately 4 billion years ago, and through a number of steps, our own "life" came to be. Today, we do not live merely in a beautiful world; it is a place of struggle as well. I will be very happy if the Space Poem Chain can evoke the close bonds hidden in the harsh processes by which the transformation of life and matter take place.

The Milky Way is becoming more and more difficult to see in the Japanese night sky, but even now the stars shine and send us messages of faint light. It is precisely because of the faintness that we must appreciate and take special care to receive them. Astronomers have made big celestial telescopes and use them to read these "letters" from outer space. Poets, with hearts honed fine, are trying to translate these messages into their own words. Both may be alike in their effort to hear the voices of the universe, wherever they come from. The Space Poem Chain has its background the portraits of celestial bodies taken by astronomers. The poems themselves are wonderful, but with the celestial portraits behind the effect is of poetry being declaimed in the realm of outer space, truly original and striking. Please join us in outer space!

When I was working at the Radio Observatory on the Nobeyama Plateau in Nagano Prefecture, I lived alone in a small house in the mountains of Oku-Chichibu. As my heart became more attached to nature, I wrote tanka poem to express my own heart and nature. Later, I returned to the city to plunge into a satellite project, and found myself overwhelmed by the schedule. I came to realize that the woods, rivers, boulders and clouds were gradually vanishing from my mental world. Exchanging poem chains based on our own rich poetic worlds is an exchange of the richness of our hearts. Through poem chains, what kind of expanse will the universe that we create hold?

The Space Poem Chain project was originated from the public call for ideas to use the Kibo space laboratory, which was organized by JAXA (NASDA at the time) in 2002. We put forward the concept of glinking people through the stars,h and I was given charge of producing gstar mailh and the Space Poem Chain as joint research. In 2008, the Kibo space laboratory will go into operation, and long-term stays on the ISS by Japanese astronauts will begin. Outer space is a frontier not only for science and technology, but for international cooperation, law, and the humanities. I very much hope that the Space Poem Chain will take root as a social activity that will allow us to think about space, the earth, and life together, going beyond boundaries of nations, cultures, generations, roles, and specialties.