Fill the stage with the earth

These words by Una Chaudhuri concluded PETER REASON‘s adaptation of the Climate Lens Playbook which shaped our morning session in the Lonsdale Room.  We opened the morning with a passionate essay  by Exeter poet CHRISSY BANKS on The Place of Poetry in a Time of Catastrophe which asked

What, I wonder, is the place of poetry in maintaining some kind of hope, reason and balance in the face of a world that seems to be spinning out of control? How can we meaningfully face climate change, war and social inequality with our words?

and offered us this inspirational answer

When a poet loves the world but hates what is happening to it, writing is a way of containing the chaos experienced –  the anger, frustration, disappointment and powerlessness. Poets can wake people up as long as they can stay awake themselves.

‘Poets can wake people up as long as they can stay awake themselves’ might almost have been the theme of the whole day.  The writings we shared were so intense with energy and commitment that the meetup simply became more and more compelling as the hours went by.  AMA BOLTON has already done a brilliant post, Of Trees and Tygers and Catastrophe, on her WordPress site Barleybooks ( link here).  I won’t be trying to add to any of her detailed account, with its rich library of useful links, except to quote the post’s final words

…..but it’s time to face the apocalypse head-on and do something about it. The expression it’s not the end of the world has gained a horrible new relevance.

Moving on …..

The Climate Lens Playbook, which Peter Reason had adapted so skilfully to the short space of workshop time we had available, proved to be a wonderfully illuminating way to think about the poems which had been submitted by VERONA BASS, AMA BOLTON, EILEEN CAMERON and LOUISE GREEN. We will be using it again when we have our follow-up session on Saturday 20th July.  ( link here ) We will also be using the poem Rise  (link here)   which Peter introduced in the afternoon, both as an inspiration and as a model for our own work.  The link on the Barleybooks site is excellent.  Please use it if you are thinking contributing to this Day. ( I will be messaging out in more detail how to shape your contributions very soon.)

Screenshot 2019-03-31 at 15.53.02

The two authors and performers of the poem ‘Rise’

Our audience…..

What an amazing gathering! What an electrifying afternoon!  What a responsive group of friends and strangers flocked to the Elwin Room!  I counted 43, and know that a few more trickled in for SUE SIMS‘ launch.  The atmosphere was unlike any meetup I can remember and it felt from the first moment a huge privilege to be part of this remarkable event.

Afterwards, also how good to hear that someone had written in about the pleasure she took in our inclusivity – three senior poets helping FLORY WISDOM with her remarkable debut reading, the lively Bard of Bath performing alongside an eminent academic who has now completed his formal career.

Another inspiring response from another visitor new to our events :

I feel deeply that something huge is happening – as if we are all being re-arranged. That everything is going through a huge transition where things have to be undone in order that they can be recreated on an altogether different plane. And here it’s the role of the artist to enlighten our inmost thoughts – some of which, as yet, are inaccessible for very many people.

I will be writing to these new friends and asking whether they would like to send us a contribution to this post.

And here is a lovely summing up from our very own  VERONA BASS which I was so delighted to receive in my emails four days afterwards

in BRLSI on a clear bright day

we bear witness to catastrophe;

is this blue sky thinking?

 

PLEASE USE THE COMMENTS BOX BELOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS DAY.

And please make sure that you are following this blog if you would like to come to more of our events.

 

3 comments on “Fill the stage with the earth

  1. Ali Bacon says:

    I am new to environmental writing and having been educated in the classics, I’m accustomed to precepts like ‘man is the measure of all things’ – a tall order to remove man from the equation and look at nature from nature’s standpoint. (Possibly the only real example of this I had encountered before Saturday was Alice Oswald’s ‘Dart’)
    I was awed by all of the poems presented for discussion which I found stunning in different ways.
    Points that occurred to me as a novelist – ‘nature as painted scenery’ – resonates with the author’s instinct to put nature to the use of characters and emotions in tropes like the pathetic fallacy. The paradox was represented by Ama’s The Weeping Ash, in which we blur the lines of human emotion and biology. By changing our world view can we persuade others to do the same, or do we need to communicate on man’s own terms? Finally we were asked how the ‘Rise’ video made us feel. In my case, very small. Ali B

    Liked by 1 person

  2. baddenoch257 says:

    Thank you Sue for your beautiful description of the day in your blog ‘Fill the stage with the earth’. I found the morning very inspiring and was disappointed that I couldn’t stay for the afternoon. I love Verona’s witty response to the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. claire coleman says:

    I do urge readers of the blog to go to Ama Bolton’s link as she has written so well about this extra ordinary day. I also want to honour Sue (Susan Jane) Sims for her remarkable, moving, courageous collection Splitting Sunlight. How can we bear the world? By bearing witness. Claire

    Liked by 1 person

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