Monday, July 18, 2005

Sestina skirmish

For the Glenn Academy website we have to write weekly summaries. Last week was mine, and so I wrote this (somewhat crappy, but still time consuming) sestina:

Week Six Sestina

To start week six, th' Academy at Glenn
learned censorship makes Jordan roar like thunder.
Then later Monday the students found a new space-
the best one dollar tacos in Ohio-
had margaritas and just like a movie
star, there was rhinestone cowboy Marshal Blessing.

Tuesdays aren't always received as a blessing,
but this Tuesday was not pure work at Glenn.
A physics speaker dazzled with a movie
of waves (the pressure kind cause all the thunder).
On Wednesday at the Aero Inst. of Ohio,
a conference held; all eyes were turned towards space.

But no, the shuttle didn't return to space
(to find out why would be a NASA blessing).
At least we didn't road-trip from Ohio.
Filmed interview with Landis: guru of Glenn.
At night the skies erupted with rain and thunder,
which at Candlewood meant pizza and a movie.

On Friday we presented on our movie
and work from Kevlar to bone-loss in space.
Biking home J fled from rain and thunder;
had she been pious she would have been blessing.
Kat's mom and grandma came to visit Glenn:
a long drive from Tennessee to Ohio.

Saturday saw Kat to Dayton, Ohio,
and Kenyon (almost in the Harry Potter movie)
where Jordan went to take refuge from Glenn,
with trees and hills and wide green open space,
And no shenanigans from Marshal Blessing.
She ran for miles on mighty thighs of thunder.

Back in Cleveland beach plans foiled: the thunder
brought the stench of sewage to the Ohio
lake. Then Moses, Chris, and Marshal Blessing
rounded out their weekend: a drive-in movie.
Mo braided with mayonnaise and browsed web-space.
Time for another week of work at Glenn.

Over halfway through, thunder stormed near Glenn.
We understand Ohio, though not yet space.
Should we let Marshal Blessing be in our Mars movie?

All right, so it isn't the best poem in the world, but I'm proud of it. So I was extremely pissed when I got an email from the notorious Marshal Blessing (I could write a treatise complaining about him, but I think I've already vented enough) telling me that I needed to write a “more straight-forward prose version” for the website. The “censorship” I mentioned in the second line of the first stanza refers to how everything we write gets censored before it makes it to the website. And it's not inappropriate content (for the most part) that gets cut out, it's opinions and observations about things that are going on in NASA and in our program. I realize that we are affiliated with NASA (though only partially; none of us get paid through NASA), but I don't think that means we can't describe our reactions to the things we encounter during NASA Academy. The purpose of NASA Academy is to expose smart analytical driven creative students to the “big picture” of the aerospace industry. Those kinds of students are going to have opinions, right? (At least, I would hope so.) The purpose of our website is to show the world what our program is about and what we are doing. So why do we need to portray ourselves as boring mindless drones who don't question or challenge anything? Anything with character that we try to put up on the website gets vetoed. (And what makes me mad is that Marshal, our staff member, censors these things himself before the actual “censor” guy sees it.)

So…one of the most important lessons I've learned so far this summer is that we are never going to get very far into space unless the public gets excited about NASA and invested in space travel. We also aren't going to get very far if the quality of education, specifically science education, continues to decrease and kids don't want to pursue science and engineering. I think that one of the reasons a lot of people don't want to study science and engineering isn't that it's hard, but the stereotype that those fields are boring, stiff, and uncreative. I know that's why a lot of my friends didn't enjoy science in high school. I don't think the NASA Academy should be perpetuating that stereotype; it should be breaking it. So I think my poem should go on the website and I'm going to make sure that it does.

Before I head off to do a long run in the 90 degree Cleveland swamp, I just want to say that I know there are bigger battles to be fought. Give me some time (to cool off, among other things) and I'll get over my tunnel vision.

1 comment:

Anat said...

omg, jordan i feel the same way as you. every day i go into work i feel like everyone around me has no personality besides being nerdy and hard working. why should it be weird to like science and still be adamantly creative and really care to know what people are like. i wish we could break down the formality of science fields so that we don't have to feel weird looking feminine or fashonable or rebellious.