Poets as Astronauts of the Future

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When the head of NASA visits a university founded in the polytechnic tradition, you might expect him to be addressing aerospace engineers. Instead, Charles Bolden, Jr. visited Virginia Tech in February 2016 to inspire creative writing students.

In his remarks, Bolden talked about NASA’s mission, offered advice to students interested in space travel, and talked about a growing need for writers in space.

“We think it’s critically important,” he said, “to bring people in who have a way with words, who can help us to paint word pictures of what we do to share with a larger number of people.” Bolden also urged audience members to take chances, chase their dreams, and, “Get on with life!”

Poet Nikki Giovanni, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English, had invited Bolden to speak to her students. A self-proclaimed space freak, Giovanni playfully admitted to a “not hidden” agenda of rocketing poets to the top of NASA’s list for space exploration.