University of Leicester students create out of this world poetry

Posted by es328 at Apr 25, 2017 10:47 AM |
Winners announced for Creative Writing space-themed poetry competition

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 25 April 2017

A stellar poem written by a University of Leicester student has been launched into cyberspace.

Fraser McIntosh, who studies English with Creative Writing in the University’s School of Arts, has been announced as the winner of a poetry competition, in conjunction with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, for his poem, ‘VLA J2130 + 12’.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at Harvard University is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes.

NASA Chandra has hosted results of poetry competitions organised by Dr Jonathan Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester, for several years.

As part of a second year undergraduate module at the University, Creative Writing students are encouraged to explore some of the overlaps between their subject and science. Following this, students were invited to submit poems inspired by one of Chandra’s news stories.

For his poem, Fraser McIntosh was inspired by a press release, ‘VLA J2130+12: Clandestine Black Hole May Represent New Population’, which revealed the true identity of a very quiet black hole around 7,200 light years from Earth: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2016/vla/

“VLA J2130 +12

Vlad, can I call you Vlad?
You must be quite the recluse
To elude us all these years.
Your song, your humble song
Has deceived our clever ears.

A Neutron star, a white dwarf, an ultra-cool dwarf star?
No, you are VLA J2130 + 12
We now know who you are.

You're very special, well... at least you will be,
Till we discover the other millions of you
Dotted around the galaxy.”

Runners-up for the award were students Alicia Saccoh, for her poem ‘Musicality: 10’, and Olivia Titherington, for her poem ‘The Sun and Her Children’. These poems are available here: http://creativewritingatleicester.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/cosmological-poems-for-nasa-chandra-x.html

Dr Taylor said: "We're delighted to host this competition with NASA Chandra. It's a unique element to our Creative Writing course, and it demonstrates the ways in which science and poetry aren't separate spheres, but rather have a lot in common."

Fraser McIntosh said: “I submitted the poem as a spur of the moment thing and did not expect anything to come from it at all so it was a nice surprise to see that I had actually won it. It has given me a big boost of confidence in my poetry writing."

The NASA Chandra blog showcasing Fraser’s winning poem is available here: http://chandra.harvard.edu/blog/node/633

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