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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Who was Laika?

We are all in the gutter but some of us are gazing at the stars – Oscar Wilde

Who was Laika?

Laika (pronounced Lye-Kuh) was the first living creature to make it into space. Scooped off the streets of Moscow the stray dog was selected for the mission aboard Sputnik Two. Despite answering to the name Kudryavka she was known as Laika, meaning “barker” in Russian. Though she was a mongrel it is likely she descended from huskies native to the frozen forests of the Siberian taiga. It is a matter of much debate as to how long she survived in space: some claiming she died of overheating and panic after a few hours while official sources claim she lasted four days. Either way she was the first living creature to live and die in outer space.

A black box inside my mind records the time we spend together
- Steve Mason (The Beta Band - To You Alone)

Why Laika?

As well as being a tribute to the Soviet wonderdog there is something in the story of Laika that symbolises how ridiculous and tragic and wonderful life can be: a stray dog being snatched from the gutters of Moscow alleys to be fired up amidst the stars without a clue as to where she was. It is these qualities, somewhere between the celestial and the subterranean, between dog and god, between the gutter and the stars, that the Laika Poetry Review seeks to capture.