Feeling the Pressure: How Poets Are Responding to Climate Change
Can poetry be a useful barometer? If, as Shelley argued in A Defence of Poetry, poets are ‘mirrors of the gigantic shadows that futurity casts upon the present’, then poetry surely has a part to play in our latest debates.
There is a strong tradition of environmental writing in the UK but with global warming now a matter of major public interest, the importance of such writing has reached a new level. Scientists and politicians are quick to borrow writers' tools in making their arguments but it is perhaps writers themselves - working in new arenas - who can present the issues without invoking a desensitized or dismissive response, creating instead a movement for real change. From 'ecocritic' to 'conference poet', in the classroom or on the political stage, these writers are finding new ways to engage with science and to communicate beyond a literary audience. Some of them are themselves scientists, belying the notion that art and science inhabit different worlds.
Keywords: Contemporary Poetry, Climate Change, Environmental Writing, Art and Science
Director, National Association of Writers in Education (UK)