Friday, March 04, 2016

Poetry Seven Write Sedoka

We had a whole month (albeit a shorter one) to write sedoka. For some reason I couldn't get going on this one, and really struggled to find a topic to write about. I didn't read the poems my sisters wrote, because I was afraid that would make writing my own poems harder. I finally found my voice and subject late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, as I watched Scott Kelly return to US soil.

I've been avidly following his year. I've read the tweets, watched the videos, and marveled at a life lived in space. It's been bittersweet for me, as at every turn I was reminded of my father, who would have loved following and sharing this. I know he would have watched Kelly's departure from the space station and return to Earth as eagerly as I did.

So, my poems for this month's writing challenge are all about space. Before I share them, here's a bit of information about the form.

The sedoka is a Japanese poetic form that is an unrhymed poem made up of a pair of katuata. A katuata is a three-line poem with the syllable count of 5 / 7 / 7. Generally a sedoka addresses the same subject from different perspectives.

From Armstrong to Kelly

July sixty-nine
on a black and white tv
we watched Armstrong touch the moon

Astronaut in space
tweets views while orbiting Earth
one year inside a spacecraft

(Note - I was nearly 4 when Armstrong walked on the moon. The moon landing was the first space event I remember watching with my family.)

Kelly's Year

Well beyond our reach
orbiting above he watched
sixteen sunrises a day

Here below we kept
time, one sunrise and sunset
each day, hurtling through space


Challenger was gone
before our eyes ... exploded
shattering the dreams we held

From space a tiny
blip, mini-supernova
saw stars added to the sky

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2016. All rights reserved.

You can check out some of Scott Kelly's photos at National Geographic, or on his Twitter feed @StationCDRKelly. You may also want to check out this brief video.

You can read the sedoka written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below.
Tanita Davis
Kelly Fineman
Sara Lewis Holmes
Laura Purdie Salas
Liz Garton Scanlon
Andi Sibley

Before I link you to the round up, here are a few photos (scanned from my father's slides) from our visit to Cape Canaveral in 1970.


I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. The Challenger anniversary is still so deeply sad to me. Having been in junior high and getting to school too late to watch the launch, we could only be grateful that we were on the West Coast. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to see that in real time - I remember desperately trying to stop thinking about any of it.

    We might have been curiously heartened to imagine new stars, back then. What a lovely notion.

    PS - For someone who kept claiming she hadn't written ANY poems for this month, there are just PLENTY here, madam.

    1. I sat with friends in the kitchen on our dorm hall and watched it happen. I still can't forget it. I remembering running shortly after it happened to a pay phone across campus to call my dad.

    2. BTW, these are the ONLY poems I wrote, so I felt inclined to share them all. Short forms are such a struggle for me.

    3. Challenger: A Sedoka

      Once we looked skyward
      Hoping to see angel wings,
      The seraphim vapour trails.

      Then you exploded
      in the bright summer morning,
      Feathers fell all around us.

      ©2016 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

    4. Jane, this is lovely.

  2. Wow, Trisha, you've done a remarkable job using this form to celebrate Kelly's year and your fascination with space missions. I especially like the second one, "Kelly's Year". The contrast is really amazing, and you've captured it. I love seeing your father's slides from 1970 too!

    1. Thanks, Andi. I was fascinated by all the sunrise and sunset pictures he shared.

  3. Oh, I like them all---but that middle one! I adore the notion of 16 sunrises as he stayed still, and one sunrise for us, as we hurtle. That makes my head whirl, as these sedoka are supposed to do! Well, done, Tricia.

    1. Thanks, Sara. I wanted to share so much of the science, but it's just not possible in this form. I guess when you realize the Earth moves at 67,000 miles per hour, his orbiting the Earth at 17,100 miles per hour probably does seem like standing still!

  4. Oh, my. These are stunning, Tricia. I thought Kelly's Year was my favorite, because I adored it. Then I read Untitled. I saw the Challenger explosion live in the blue sky over my Florida college, and I'll never forget it. What a comforting poem this is. Some of my favorites of yours!

    1. Thanks, Laura. I thought about writing a pair, one about Challenger's loss leaving Earth, and one on Columbia when it returned, but together they were too emotional. I saw both, but the Challenger disaster is the one that stuck with me, probably because I too was young(ish) when it happened.

  5. I LOVE these something fierce, and I so wish my character Paul from Great Good Summer was real so he could read them too. You have captured so much of what's compelling about human space travel -- the wildness, the risk, the huge beautiful massive mystery. And then you've made it totally accessible, too, like with Kelly's tweets. THANK YOU for these, truly.

    1. Oh, Paul Dobbs. What a compliment that is. Thanks, Liz!

  6. Oh, the Challenger poem. How heartbreaking and perfect. These were great, Tricia - I'm glad you picked the form, since I never would have discovered it otherwise, and I like it a lot.

    1. Hurray! I'm glad you liked it. I find a lot of different forms for the Monday stretches, but I don't always like them. This has the economy of haiku, but I like pairing them together and allowing them to show different views on a subject.

  7. Thank you, dear sisters, for your kind words. I actually posted these thinking I "didn't get" the form at all. You all have me reconsidering this.

  8. The "stars added to the sky" is a lovely line/sentiment for that Challenger crew, Tricia. I liked your connection to your father in these poems about space, and that you chose 3 important times in that history. How very much has changed since '69 & now tweets keep us happily informed, I think. I am loving reading all the sisters' writing this time, will keep the poems available, and try a few myself. I wrote haiku all last April, and have become more & more intrigued.

  9. I remember walking through the dorm lounge and seeing the news of the Challenger. That experience makes us hold our breaths even more cautiously when a take off or landing is televised, doesn't it? So glad Kelly made it back just fine!

  10. My family was glued to our TV to watch the Apollo moon landing, too. When I taught third grade, I had kids interview their parents and grandparents about their memories of July 20, 1969. I was always shocked when kids came back and said they didn't remember it at all. I let those kids interview me. Needless to say, I love all your poems, Tricia, especially those "stars added to the skies."

  11. I love all three of these, Tricia. The first gave me chills to think how far we've come. Just think how much further we'd be if space programs were actually funded at the levels they used to be! The second fascinated me with the "sixteen sunrises." And the third left me stunned and teary eyed by the last line, "saw stars added to the sky."

  12. Anticipation
    Launch feels safe, all eyes watching
    Teacher rocket into space.

  13. Roar of excitement
    Slipping surly bonds of Earth
    Houston, we have a problem.