April 3, 2024

Indiana has its official poet of the solar eclipse

Indiana Humanities named New Harmony’s Linda Neal Reising winner of its eclipse-themed poetry contest, out of more than 250 entries. - Courtesy of Indiana Humanities

Indiana Humanities named New Harmony’s Linda Neal Reising winner of its eclipse-themed poetry contest, out of more than 250 entries.

Courtesy of Indiana Humanities

There’s an official poet in Indiana for the 2024 solar eclipse

Indiana Humanities named New Harmony’s Linda Neal Reising winner of its eclipse-themed poetry contest out of more than 250 entries.

Reising’s poem was inspired by her experience during the 2017 total solar eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky — a point in the path of totality where the moon entirely covered the sun for 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

“Not only was the physical experience one that I will never forget, but also the emotional aspect. To me, the eclipse was a spiritual event,” Neal Reising said in a statement. “I feel lucky to participate in a ‘once in a lifetime event’ for a second time.”

Her poem, “The Reason We Gather for the Solar Eclipse,” touches on the natural phenomenon of the eclipse and looks forward to the end of this year's eclipse when there’s a “brilliant flash of promise.”

On Monday, Indianapolis will be one of several North America cities in the path of totality. That’s the narrow strip of land in which the moon entirely covers the sun, darkening the sky so that only the sun's corona will be visible. Central Indiana won’t be in the path again until 2153.

Neal Reising is an Oklahoma native and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, according to Indiana Humanities. Her work is published in various journals and anthologies.

Other winners were also named in the contest: West Lafayette’s Matthew Del Busto took 2nd place for “What I Know of Eclipses,” and Indianapolis’ Elsa Bell won 3rd place for “On the Day of the Eclipse.” The poems can be read at IndianaHumanities.org.

“It’s great to have had such amazing participation from professional and avocational poets alike,” Marisol Gouveia, Indiana Humanities director of engagement, said in a statement. “Clearly, the eclipse inspired Hoosier writers to create, and we look forward to seeing how this unique event continues to be interpreted.”

As the winner of the contest, Neal Reising receives a $500 prize.

Indiana Humanities is a nonprofit that supports civic and culture projects and organizations.
 

 

"The Reason We Gather for the Solar Eclipse"
By Linda Neal Reising

It is not because the light pinholes through oak leaves, creating a circus of crescent suns
upon the lawn—performers in spangled costumes.

It is not to feel the day lose its way,
the waning of warmth sending icy
fingers to stroke our prickled arms.

It is not to see the scenery’s color seeping
away to sepia, like a tin-type photograph
of unremembered ancestors.

It is not hearing the sudden hush
of songbirds rushing to roost
among the limbs of shadowed pines.

It is not observing orb-weaving spiders
dismantling their webs, stowing them
like returned sailors’ rigging.

It is not to keep a date with Venus,
spreading her goddess glow, outshining
the stars, startled by their daytime awakening.

It is not to share the wealth of Bailey’s
beads, strung around the Moon or the golden
corona crowning the royal Sun.

No, we gather for that moment, after totality’s
darkness, when we stand, faces upturned,
waiting for that brilliant flash of promise,

and we think, Ah, yes, this is the way it will be.


Eric Weddle is the WFYI education editor. Contact Eric at eweddle@wfyi.org.

 

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