Feeling the Pressure: How Poets Are Responding to Climate Change

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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
Stream: Literary Arts Practices
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Paul Munden

Director, National Association of Writers in Education (UK)
York, North Yorkshire, UK

Paul Munden is the Executive Director of the National Association of Writers in Education, a membership organization supporting writers and writing of all genres in all educational settings throughout the UK. His poetry has received an Eric Gregory Award and has appeared in many anthologies, including the Faber Book of Movie Verse, Faber's Poetry Introduction 7, and Quintet (Staple First Editions 1993). For the British Council, he has been the Writer-in-Residence at several Anglo-Swiss conferences on themes including 'Ethics and Predictive Medicine' and 'The traffic in cultural artefacts from Iraq and Afghanistan'. He is the editor of Feeling the Pressure: Poetry and Science of Climate Change (British Council 2008).

Ref: A09P0680