Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rockets and poems

Why aren't there more poems about rockets? I think of the shuttle crew up there repairing the Hubble Space Telescope right this minute. How amazing that is for the child of a rocket engineer in the 1950s. My dad spent most of his career just trying to create a rocket that could make it past the atmosphere. My father called home to his family on the world's first -- FIRST! -- satellite-bounced phone call (it didn't go through - network has always been the problem).

I wonder why there are almost no poems about space. Even my favorite science poet, Pattiann Rogers, has never written one that I know of. If anyone knows of a poem about space or missiles or satellites, please send it.

Of course, there is Gregory Corso's immortal:

Poem Rocket
Be a star-screwer!

Sent to Allen Ginsberg.

Doesn't quite do it for me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poetry in the House - the White House

Poetry in the White House: the new look of a new administration is to care about the spoken word. I knew things were looking good when it turned out that our new President wrote poetry in college. And that he writes his own speeches. That hasn't happened practically since Lincoln.

So I wasn't entirely surprised to read today in the Washington Post that last night the East Room was the venue for a poetry jam. As the Post said, while it wasn't technically a poetry slam, "the spoken-word evening ... did showcase precisely what the best poetry slammers do: Bring their verse to life so that the poem becomes a performance, recited in a rhythm that is almost sung, allowing the speaker to ride words to the deepest valleys of emotion and then scale verbal heights."

And you know what I like even better? Apparently, it was all Michelle's idea. President Obama introduced her as his poet. I'm a happy American today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Eternity Takes an Eternity to Learn

I'm speaking of the new Samsung phone, which I got for my birthday. Thank heavens I got it a week in advance of the actual day, because I would have had to spend the day turning over the little black box and wondering where all the buttons were and which end to speak into. Instead, today I navigated us from Walnut Creek to Sonoma using the inbuilt GPS with spoken directions. My mother (86) asked if that was a real person on the phone giving us directions. Cute.

I also wouldn't have been able to look up the word "podunk" at the dinner table to settle an etymological dispute. In case you too didn't know, it's Algonquin dialect for people who live in boggy places and have no name. Thus, towns called Podunk haven't experienced great growth. Something about stepping in mire all the time, I don't know.

So for anyone who's not stopped reading by now -- yes, it is a really cool phone. With a steep learning curve. But isn't that the hallmark of all the technology we love?