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  • Sheldon White

On “The Challenger Shuttle Disaster, 1986” by Sara Carmichael

This piece in the 2020 spring edition caught my eye as one of the more intriguing pieces in the edition's contents. Being a long time proponent and voracious consumer of information on space programs around the world, the challenger disaster has always been resounding in abysmal horror and a deep sadness inherent in what the community holds as one of the most revered crews in space history. This poem, told from the perspectives of those who were watching that day beautifully, moved me in a way mere information and research could provide. The poem, separated into vignettes of poetic narrative surrounding the ’86 Challenger Disaster offers a telling and renowned timely narrative on one of the most impactful events of a generation lost to the younger readers of today.

This iteration of our publication has received so many excellent submissions, particularly in the collection of poetry that we have fielded across the world, primarily from younger writers. It is by this demographic of source that this piece aroused our interests for our publication. What makes me so infatuated by its captive narrative is the way the narrative dynamically wove together all of these perspectives from across America to characterize a national tragedy. It is by evident extensive research and investment that Carmichael was able to eloquently capture the national psyche during the horror of the cataclysmic failures that day.

Very rarely am I able to live vicariously through the written word, particularly to the extent of emotional totality that this piece offers. Regardless of my absence in 1986, I am able to capture an inkling of the shock and horror that the families, countrymen and constituents of those astronauts experienced. It is by this aspect of the piece’s nature, that I was so drawn to its content. The piece serves as a necessary memoriam to the sacrifice and honor of the mission’s crew, particularly centering on astronaut-teacher Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to be flow into space, with the intention of broadcasting lessons from within the space shuttle. She is regarded as being a pioneer in both teaching and aeronautics.

The piece’s value lies not just in its value as a reverent piece of literature covering the collective trauma of a nation, but also a journey into the emotional landscape of the millions of Americans looking onward as the shuttle erupted into a ball of flame. When our editors are looking through pieces, rarely do we come across pieces that can doubly accomplish these goals like this. There are very few poetic pieces on events like these, so it is important that we pay reverence to and patronize those that conform to our editorial standard and fulfill our hunger for good and satisfying literature.

Our spring edition is filled with pieces that for me allow for the transcendental vicarious experience mentioned prior. This batch of particularly potent poetry was by far the most fascinating conglomeration of talent I’ve seen in my interactions with our publication. It is for these reasons that I recommend you look into our Spring Edition and read the piece for yourself.

- Sheldon White, Junior Fiction/CNF Editor


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