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Climate Action: Day 5

27th April, 2023

Read an eco-poem with a group of people!

The Climatopia Project believes that it is more important than ever to have conversations about literature, climate change, and the human aspect of the climate crisis. Reading poetry in a group can spark meaningful discussions and dialogue and can provide you with new ways of looking at the crisis.

Staff on the National desk at The New York Times often begin their morning meetings by reading a poem, since, as one photo editor on that desk remarks, “The magic of poetry is that it jolts your mind into thinking about a subject or theme in an unexpected way.

Here are some wonderful poems:

Here are some questions to ask and discuss as you read and re-read your chosen poem:

  • Who has written this piece? Why and when was it written? Is it based on a particular ecological event? Research about the literary and historical context of the poem.

  • What stands out in this poem to you? The vivid imagery? The rhyme, the sonic patterns? Ask if anyone else noticed these elements and compare your observations.

  • Do you notice any thematic, linguistic, or sonic patterns? Is there a motif or image that comes up often? Are some consonant sounds repeated?

  • What are the feelings in the poem? What is the tone or the attitude of the writer towards the subject? Is the speaker angry, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeful, or joyous? Do these feelings shift or change? How does the poem make you feel?

  • What puzzles or confuses you about the poem? Are there words or allusions that you are unfamiliar with? Ask what other people think about these puzzles.

  • Ask members to share their personal connections with the piece. Do the images and lines conjure particular memories, experiences, or emotions? Do they remind them of something they’ve experienced, felt, or witnessed?

  • Ask one another: what is this poem broadly about? What questions is this raising? Is it putting forward any answers or solutions to the ecological crisis?

  • Finally, ask each other: has the poem changed you in any way? Has it made you more hopeful? Has it inspired you to take action? Has it made you aware of a particular aspect of the crisis you were unaware of? What are you going to do with this new awareness to help the planet? How are you going to take the message of this poem forward?

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