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.)
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.
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