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Scott McVay reads 'Maps': What are maps after all but metaphors?



What are maps

after all

but metaphors

for what we don't know?

At each juncture

of the human record of

perception of where we are

we see a little of

the near at hand

but want to know

what's over the rise

in the hill or

the far horizon at sea.

Copernicus & Kepler

gave us the first big


Darwin & Wallace

a new map

for thinking about origins

and how we came to be.

Freud & Jung

poked up awareness

of the unmapped unconscious

Margaret Geller,

saints be praised,

gave us the first map

of the universe

that others have been

fleshing out ever since.

Yes, maps are metaphors

of the little we know

and a hint of where we

have to go.

Scott McVay was founding executive director of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. He was the 16th president of the Chautauqua Institution. He discovered and documented the six-octave song of the Humpback whale and with Roger Payne published a cover article in Science with the analysis. He led two expeditons to the Alaskan Arctic to study the rare Bowhead whale. The National Film Board of Canada made a documentary of that expedition. Other papers were published in Scientific American, Natural History, and American Scientist. As founding executive director of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, he created several initiatives, including a nationwide effort to encourage the teaching of Mandarin in high school. That led, in part, to the fact that today Mandarin is taught in more than 1,000 school from coast to coast. He also established a poetry initiative, with colleague Jim Haba, to honor poets, elevate teaching poetry in schools and the craft itself through four PBS television series, three with Bill Moyers. In 2010, Hella and Scott McVay created a Poetry Trail at the D&R Greenway Land Trust in Princeton — as a gift to the community — celebrating poetry that salutes the wonders of nature by reaching into dozen lands and cultures. McVay says that he feels "blessed" in his marriage and his family. His poem appeared, titled "What Are Maps?", in Wild River Review.