There have been many big moments recently at The College of Idaho. The eighth Rhodes Scholar. Major leaders of industry coming together to support scholarships. A national-championship basketball team.
And soon, one will surpass them all to go someplace the College has never been: the moon
An original poem composed by English professor Diane Raptosh ’83 will form part of the moon’s first literary archive. The poem will launch for the moon in November 2024 as part of NASA’s Artemis project, establishing a Lunar Codex on the moon’s south pole.
The poem, titled “I’d Like to Trill You a Song About End-Words,” was created for a three-volume series of books called the Polaris Trilogy. The books feature a variety of space-themed poems from around the world, including writings from all seven continents.
“There are poems from people all over planet Earth,” Raptosh said “A lot of different countries and languages are represented. We all have the same moon after all.”
Raptosh’s recent lunar inspiration came in the form of the Artemis project. Named after the Greek Goddess of the hunt and moon, a strong female mythological character drew Raptosh into the project.
“Since the beginning of time, poets have been obsessed with the moon,” Raptosh explained. “So, the moon’s very hard to write about. You must do it in a fresh way as it’s one of those topics that poets typically gravitate towards.” The Artemis project is focused on transporting astronauts to the moon for exploration. To do so, many safety precautions must be taken. It’s in these precautions where Raptosh found the subject of her poem. Her fourteen-line American unrhymed sonnet focuses on an anti-radiation vest project used to keep astronauts safe in space.
Raptosh transforms two phantom torsos (known as the twins Helga and Zohar) into living entities. Helga and Zohar play vital roles in the important task of keeping astronauts safe. Cosmic radiation is a significant danger that astronauts face and, should Helga and Zohar’s journey be successful, the data gathered will showcase whether cosmic radiation vests can allow travel into deep space.
Raptosh said the upcoming journey doesn’t feel historical yet. Like the moon itself, Raptosh’s story comes full circle. As an alumna of the College, Raptosh began her poetry journey on campus as an English Literature major. Her career has gone on to include professional fellowships, recognition as Boise’s Poet Laureate, a four-year run as Idaho’s Writer-in-Residence, and the 2018 Governor’s Arts Award in Excellence along with her long tenure teaching.
When asked how poetry has affected her life, Raptosh said “It’s been life-changing really. There are few things in life that provide you the solitude to be contemplative, and express what being oneself feels like. It’s really what most of my life has been about.”
You can learn more about NASA’s Artemis project here.
The College of Idaho has a 132-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.
Story written by Morgan Reah, College of Idaho Marketing & Communications student intern