Ask An Astronaut - Becoming a Poet in Space

Doug Wheelock says poetry is the best way to express his feelings about space exploration.

We asked NASA Astronaut, Colonel Doug Wheelock if he has any hobbies during his downtime in space. Here is what he told us.

One of my pastimes in space was to write poetry, and so people would ask, "Are you a poet?" Well, actually I think we all are.

It's just in space it's sort of a dichotomy of the senses where it's so overstimulating visually, but there's no sound so it's pretty profound. You begin to miss the sights and sounds and smells of the Earth.

The job of the poet is to reveal beauty that's all around us that we take for granted. We take it so much for granted that we never see it or don't even realize it's there sometimes, until it's gone. Then when it's gone we begin to realize, "Wow. Something is missing from my life."

That's where poetry stems from. All the great poets wrote from a sense of loss, whether that's loss of a sense or a loss of a relationship or something like that.

So when I train the new guys, I say, "Everyone becomes a poet when they're in space."