It was the nine-year old nephew of a famous mathematician who, in 1920, came up with the term googol— It meant a massively large quantity of things you could't even see with the naked eye. For example, can you imagine what ten duotrigintillion subatomic particles looks like, or whether one could pack them into all the crevices of this earth? When a company was casting about for a good name for a search engine that could deliver almost infinite amounts of information, the story is they misspelled the little prodigy's term. Are we the only creatures in the universe perennially obsessed with numbers and measurement? Someone always wants to know: if relief comes soon, how soon? Many are gleeful that the president's approval rating is the lowest of all elected to that office. And yet another day brings what's described as another new low— How low could anyone go? Meanwhile, we listen as news reports count and re-count the number of hospital beds; numbers of our dead, numbers of the recovered. Here, when you twitch with pain and your face turns pale, I'm desperate to know how bad it is, on a scale of one to ten; after the mallet strikes the lever and sends the puck on its feverish course toward the bell, to know how soon the wooden tower at last stops its fearful juddering.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.