Journal of Writing & Environment

Outer Space, Web Rove

by Michelle Donahue

I have always been obsessed with outer space. There’s something strange and compelling about that space beyond, and now, with the massive meteor attack in Russia in mid-February, space has been even more on my mind. And I don’t think I’m the only one. For this week’s web rove I bring you several pieces in which outer space plays an important part.

Cosmonauts/Nots/Knots” by Matthew Burnside (from Ninth Letter)

This comes from Ninth Letter’s impressive first web edition, which features student work. If you haven’t checked it out, go do so—the layout is funky and playful and the writing is insanely good.

Burnside’s “Cosmonauts/Nots/Knots” tells the story of a couple that builds outer space into their (now dead) child’s bedroom. The story is told in short, powerful snippets. The sad (but never overly sentimental) story of the couple evolves alongside references to exquisite space details and famous figures like Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and David Bowie. This story is funny and gut-wrenching.

Memoir” by Scott Withiam (from Diagram)

This poem-as-memoir features the narrator driving a Mercury Comet “straight as a comet”. The language play here is fun throughout. The comment on memoir is fun, yet insightful: “That was the hardest part about memoir—it didn’t look like it happened.”

Space Density: Montana” by Kat Finch (from Birdfeast)

The spaced caesuras here create a poem that looks like a constellation. Beginning with a meadow, dandelions, the night sky, and stars and ending with off-white crosses, this poem packs quite a punch.

Prestidigitation, Pennsylvania” by Rusty Barnes (from [PANK])

I love the first lines of this poem: “Magic in its backwoods, / a bloody star in a lit sky / that we call anywhere”. With first lines like that, how can you not keep reading?