GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — NASA is collecting work from more than 30,000 contemporary creative artists around the world to send to the moon. One of the works selected is from a retired Grand Valley State University professor.

Patricia Clark is a professor emerita of writing and a former poet laureate. Her poem “Astronomy in Perfect Silence” celebrates the wonder of space.

Space is a topic Clark cares about and has been her passion since she was a student. She says how her astronomy professor at the University of Washington spoke about the universe inspired her to write this poem.

“What hit me so much was stuff that he said was kind of off the cuff. You know, he said that he thought it was really good to go out at night, look up at the stars, and remember how truly small you are,” Clark said. “I think that really helped me. So I think I’m hoping that people will get that from my poem and see the world. The natural world is really full of magic in a lot of ways and can teach us amazing things if we remember to go out and be in it.”

Literature and science may seem very different, but Clark believes poetry can be a bridge to fields we may not understand. She thinks it can help us slow down to appreciate the beauty of nature.

It took Clark a long time to get where she is now. She said consistency is key.

“I said to myself, I’m going to give it 20 years and look back and see if I’ve made progress. I think, indeed, I had,” she said. “Even then, if you haven’t made very much progress, you don’t want to give up. You want to just hang in there because persistence is everything.”

Her work will be part of the Polaris Collection expected to launch in November 2024.

You can learn more about Clark’s career on her website.