I really like portmanteaus. This is where a new word is born by combining parts of other words. Like the word “brunch” coming from breakfast plus lunch. Or “smog” coming from smoke plus fog. The word portmanteau isn't a portmanteau, which is a shame, but instead came about from Lewis Carroll explaining that the word slithy was like a portmanteau, which was a two compartmented piece of luggage. That is to say the word held meaning from two different words, in his case “lithe” and “slimy” (the word appears in “Jabberwocky”, which is filled with portmanteaus).
So as I was trying to think about what to write this time I created a new portmanteau. “Spoetry”. Which I have created from space plus poetry. (OK, it has problems since the “sp” isn't just from space, but the “sm” in smog could have come from “smelt”. Don't look at me that way it could have.)
So what has me thinking about spoetry? I can certainly see why you might be wondering. But really it's not that weird. I recently learned of a project that intends to send some poems out into space. The MAVEN spacecraft is going to be launched to Mars in November. And they are planning to include some haiku on a DVD on-board the craft.
Now the MAVEN probe itself is being sent to study Mars' atmosphere and how and why Mars is losing it. (MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN.) And to increase the educational and inspirational aspects of the project they had a contest of student art that was to be included on the trip (to see the winners check out ). Well, even if I had known about it in time I doubt I could have competed at least partially since I haven't been in school for many years..
But they have recently announced they are also going to have a haiku contest. No here I might have a chance. They are sticking to the 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable form of haiku. (No modern American stuff where syllable counts may vary.) The topic of the haiku should be something about a message to Mars. Now here is one example:
blue water long gone
red sandcastles blown away
cold Martian beaches
Of course I'm saving my best one for the contest. If you want to learn more about the contest and read lots of other examples check out the post on NPR. According to the article there everyone that submits a haiku will have their name included on the trip to Mars. So even if you don't end up being one of the winners, you can still “sign” the letter they're going to be sending to Mars. So dust off your dictionary or check out http://www.howmanysyllables.com/ to make sure you get the right syllable count and write your message to Mars and send it in. Most people don't find writing haiku to be too painful. So give it a try. Just have it in before July 1st.