Building the World

March 31, 2019
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First Poem written from SPACE

“Good Morning from the International Space Station.” Image: nasa.gov

31 March 2009. Astronaut Wakata Koichi wrote what may be the first poem ever written by a human being in space. Wakata Koichi floated into view on the computer monitor at JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, (counterpart to NASA) at the Tsukuba Space Center. From the International Space Station, called Kibo or Hope in the Japanese language, the scientist/poet held a sheet of paper and wrote something; upon completion, Wakata-san turned the paper to the camera and spoke these words:

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, 2009

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Space Poem Chain. http://issjaxa.jp/utiliz/renshi/index_e.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

March 20, 2019
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Welcome, Spring

“Barsana Holi Festival” by photographer Narender9. Image: wikimedia.

Color is associated with spring, perhaps nowhere more brilliantly than in India. In the land of the Taj Mahal, the iconic edifice famously inlaid with jewels like lapis lazuli and rubies, spring’s celebration of Holi invites people to bedeck each other with color and sometimes scented water. Dating to a 4th century poem, and featured in a 7th century play written by emperor Harsha, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Phalguna; in 2019, the holiday is 21-22 March. The holiday has spiritual roots: some relate it to the love of Krishna and Radha; others, to the story of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada, and Holika, whence the holiday takes its name. Are you feeling spring in the air?  Wear, or exchange, a bit of color to welcome spring. The vernal equinox 2019 occurs in Boston on 20 March at 17:58:00.

Suri, Manveena. “Why India celebrates Holi: The legends behind the festival of color.” 19 March 2019. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/articlel/holi-festival-india/index.html.

India Times. “Consent is important; even on Holi.” https://www.facebook.com/indiatimes/videos/622357941510873?sfns=vmo.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

February 14, 2017
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Where did the Valentine Heart originate?

Coin from Cyrene, 630bce, with image of silphium. Image: Kürt Baty, 2006, wikimedia commons.

Where did the Valentine Heart icon come from? Perhaps Cyrene. When the ancient Greeks were told by the Oracle of Delphi to leave drought-stricken Thera (present-day Santorini), pioneering migrants sailed to Libya, settling in Cyrene because of its moist, fertile land. So fertile, in fact, that a magical plant grew there. Some attribute silphium’s powers to the flowering of culture that Cyrene fostered. Resident Eratosthenes measured the earth’s circumference, opened research into prime numbers, and drew a map of the stars (tallied at 675). Silphium stirred minds, and hearts: legend whispered the plant possessed amatory properties. Silphium drew so many people to the new city, stimulating not only the economy but the populace, that the plant’s heart-shaped seed was imprinted on coins. Cyrene became so famous that Pindar wrote an ode in praise. Was Cyrene the origin of one of the world’s first emoticons?

To hear the music of Pindar’s odes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB49E2ozEPM

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

October 13, 2016
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Nobel Surprise

Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bob Dylan (who changed his birth name to honor the poet Dylan Thomas) won the Nobel Prize for Literature today. It is the first time the prize has been awarded to a songwriter; although many would argue that Bob Dylan is a poet, like fellow laureates T. S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats, whose work is deepened with music. Among Dylan’s anthems, “Blowin’ in the Wind” was performed at the Washington Mall just before Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Bono, citing Keats, stated that Bob Dylan “juggled beauty and truth.” What is the role of the poet in political change and world issues?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

May 24, 2016
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City as Art

Singing’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly. Will Boston’s “Raining Poetry” set a new style for the City as Art? Image: wikimedia commons.

Baghdad was designed in three concentric circles drawn in the sand by founder Caliph al-Mansur, who named the new capital “Madinat as-Salam” or “City of Peace.” As Toynbee observed in Cities of Destiny, urban centers possess cultural magnetism. Boston is showering the city in art: poetry appears in the rain. A collaboration of Boston City Hall, the Mayor’s Mural Crew, and Mass Poetry, the project echoes public art along the Greenway. Chicago’s Millennium Park brings public art to a new gathering green downtown. Beijing also uses urban life to uplift: riders on the metro’s Line 4 can access Chinese poetry and philosophy through barcodes posted in passenger cars. China’s Grand Canal standardized written language, facilitating government, and cultural, exchange. Boston’s poems, however, are ephemeral; disappearing ink lasts just a few weeks. But words are, as Roman poet Horace stated, “monumentum aere perennius” – “a monument more lasting than bronze” or as Langston Hughes, whose poem graces Dudley Square, might observe: “Still Here.”

Thanks to Chak Ngamtippan for suggesting featuring Boston’s “Raining Poetry.”

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

June 30, 2015
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It’s About Time

Prague Astronomical Clock. Wikimedia commons.

When Wordsworth talked about the magic of a “spot of time,” the poet may not have imagined what digital challenges would be required by the adjustment of modern clocks to the world’s slightly irregular rotation. June 30, 2015, will have one extra second. We owe thanks to Sandford Fleming, surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway, who first suggested universal time standards. The International Prime Meridian Conference, held in Washington, DC, endorsed and inaugurated a worldwide system of time zones. What will you do with your extra second of time?

Wordsworth, William, The Prelude, Book 12 http://www.bartleby.com/145/ww298.html

International Prime Meridian Conference http://www.ucolick.org/~sla/leapsecs/scans-meridian.html

Extra Second on June 30, 2015

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33313347

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

May 29, 2015
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The Art of Change

 

“Pitiless blue sky” image: photos-public-domain.com

“I love a sunburnt country,” wrote poet Dorothea Mackellar, OBE, about Australia where “a pitiless blue sky” parched farms and withered forests in a drought so long and severe that the Murray River, part of the Murray and Murrumbidgee irrigation project of Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric, needed emergency dredging to reach the sea. Australia is the most arid country on earth. When the rains returned, relief brought a new era of conservation. Today, Australians use 55 gallons of water per person per day; Californians, 105. Will the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy persuade Americans that the Clean Water Rule is everyone’s responsibility? Can the United States benefit from Australia’s experience, perhaps in part by commissioning poets and artists to engage both minds, and hearts, in the conservation of precious water?

“My Country,” by Dorothea Mackellar, OBE.

Kristen Gelineau and Ellen Knickmeyer, “California looks to Australia for tips on surviving drought,” May 25, 2015, Associated Press. http://hosted2.ap.org/apdefault/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2015-05-25-AS-California-Drought-Lessons-from-Down-Under-Abridged/id-f2a4df4291f641109b91710d2a36f83a

Gina McCarthy and Jo-Ellen Darcy, “Reasons We Need the Clean Water Rule.” May 27, 2015. With appreciation to Sheila M. Turney. http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2015/05/reasons-we-need-the-clean-water-rule/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

February 10, 2015
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Open Bar(code)

Could transport link to transporting poetry? Image: wikimedia commons.

Take Line 4, when riding the Beijing metro; then, scan a barcode to access Chinese literature and philosophy. China’s National Library, cooperating with Beijing’s municipal government, will change the ten-tome selection monthly. Of course, barcode can transport to music, dance, drama, and other cultural expressions. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Channel Tunnel recently added wifi; might there be a special channel within? Shinkansen will soon upgrade to new efficiency; what may Japan create? What opportunities are inherent in public transportation to make readers of riders?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-30830472

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

May 26, 2014
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Bridge to the Future

 

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, Boston. Image: wikimedia commons.

When the Brooklyn Bridge opened, on May 25, 1883, to great fanfare celebrating the linking of Brooklyn and Manhattan, two great centers of success, more than 150,000 people flocked across the span. Popularity spawned speculators who sold counterfeit passes, shaped like real admission tickets given to dignitaries. The Brooklyn Bridge has inspired more poetry than any other bridge in history. What poems are yet to be written about other spans, including Boston’s Zakim Bridge?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

February 28, 2014
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Monuments, Memory, and Culture

Image courtesy of nih.gov.

Monument to love, built by 20,000 artisans using 43 different kinds of jewels, the Taj Mahal is Shah Jahan’s memorial to his beloved wife, Arjumand Banu Begam, also known as Mumtaz Mahal. The lovers met as teenagers and parted only when Mumtaz died on the battlefield (she traveled with him, no matter the circumstances) giving birth. Roman poet Horace wrote in his last ode, 3.30.1: Exegi monumentum aere perennius – “I have built a monument more lasting than bronze.” Poetry, music, libraries, laws, endowments, buildings, monuments, art – how should we honor, and remember? What is the role of memory in culture?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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