GV professor sends a poem to space


Courtesy / Patricia Clark

Sabrina Rihtarshich, Staff Writer

Patricia Clark, a professor emerita of writing at Grand Valley State University and former poet laureate of Grand Rapids from 2005-2007, is having one of her poems sent to the moon in a time capsule as part of the Lunar Codex project sent by NASA.

The time capsule is set to launch to the Moon’s Nobile Crater Nov. 2024. Clark said there were several editors for the project, each being assigned to particular continents so the program could include poems from around the world.

The poem being sent to the moon, which is available on her website, is titled Astronomy in Perfect Silence,” as all poems in the time capsule had to be about the moon, the stars or the sun.

When deciding what she wanted to write her poem about, Clark said she thought about her college experience, specifically about an introductory astronomy class she took that left a lasting impact on her. 

I was always intrigued just why I had saved the textbook from that class as I moved around the country,” Clark said. “I got rid of other books. Why save a textbook from a science class? I never forgot the professor and I wanted to celebrate him in some way with this poem.”

While the poem was inspired by her class, it ended up representing much more. 

“The poem is about the experience of taking his class and also the comments he made about going out at night, looking up at the stars and reminding yourself about your own insignificance as a way of centering yourself,” Clark said. “It still makes sense to me.” 

Clark is one of 30,000 other artists with writing, music, art and books being sent to the moon in a Lunar Codex. 

“It’s amazing,” Clark said. “I would never have thought such an opportunity would come up. It took nearly a year for them to read all the poems and make their choices. I was thrilled to be the author of a poem they wanted to include.”

The poem is also published in The Polaris Trilogy: Poems for the Moon available on Amazon.