Updated: May 29, 2022
Use writing to explore how the natural world around you is changing.
Suggested reading: Read this poem. In it, the poet explores how climate change impacts the Philippines. In the reflection, the poet writes that “...I am intimately aware that climate change affects everyone differently, so countries like the Philippines have to give voice to what their people suffer on account of climate change so that less-affected countries who may not understand the urgency may realize their role in stopping this.”
Here are some points to think about as you read:
The poet titled her poem using a phrase from Tagalog. What effect does this have on the tone of the entire poem? Does it make the poem richer in any way? Find out the meaning of the phrase and how it relates to the poem and the place described.
The poet describes how climate change is impacting the Philippines by connecting the land to a personal memory. Can you include such personal stories, memories, or narratives in your work to explore the relationship between the changing climate, your locality, and your individual identity?
The poem consists of a number of couplets. How does this form and structure complement and affect the theme of the poem? What happens when this form is broken at the end of the poem?
In this poem, the poet uses the image of water to connect the past, present, and future of the Bay. What is the significance of this? What else does water symbolise in the poem?
The poet uses rich, specific details in the poem (”hellish weight”, “childish hands”, “gagging with trash” and so on). Underline the phrases you find interesting and reflect on why they stood out to you and how they add to the overall effect of the poem.
In your piece, try to be as specific as you can by using strong verbs and vivid images.
Keeping this in mind, write a piece that explores how your locality (garden, village, neighbourhood, town, city, state or country) is being shaped by the climate crisis. Here are some prompts to get your creative juices flowing:
A conversation with nature: Go to (or near) a place where bits of nature remain. There, have a conversation with the elements of nature (a stone, a wild bird, a tree, a brook, and so on). Ask them specific questions such as:
How long have you been here? Where did you come from?
Is there any interesting story from your past that you would like to share?
Have you begun to feel the impacts of climate change?
How do you feel about these impacts and your changing habitat?
What do you think of the human species in the light of the fact that humans are responsible for the rapidly changing climate?
What can humans do to make amends and create a better space for you?
Feel free to add more questions to this list!
Imagine the responses and write them down in a notebook. Then, string these together and build on them to craft a poem, a story, or a piece of creative nonfiction.
Sounds: The natural world abounds in sounds. Capture this rich soundscape using the auditory elements of poetry such as repetition, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia and so on. You may even focus on a particular natural element and describe the sounds that you associate with this element.
Celebrate nature: Imagine you are an alien who has landed near where you live. Keeping this in mind, look at the natural landscape near you, and explore it the way an alien would. Look at every bee. Listen to every bird call. Admire the pattern made by every branch. Take detailed notes, appreciating the beauty of the natural wonders that remain. Use these notes as inspiration.
Self portraits: Imagine you are a prominent geographic or natural feature in your town, city or village. This could be a mountain, a plot of woods, a lake, a stream, or even a tree or a blade of grass. Then, connect yourself to that feature, exploring how both you and the feature and changing in response to the climate crisis. You may come up with a list of similarities and differences, and use this list to write a piece that explores elements of your personal identity or your community’s identity. Read this poem for inspiration.
Nature Journaling: Keep a nature journal and use it to explore how the natural world around you is changing, as well as how you feel about these changes.
Poetry: Try experimenting with different forms. For instance, you may write a haiku, a traditional Japanese form of poetry consisting of three short lines that capture a moment in nature.
Prose: Describe and reflect on the wounded natural world in your journal. First, use sensory language to vividly describe nature, trying to appeal to all five senses. Subsequently, reflect on how you feel when you are in a natural environment. Acknowledge and honour your feelings, whether they are that of awe, wonder, joy, grief, guilt or apprehension. You could even map the impacts of climate change on the natural elements around you in the form of a short story.
Join hands with other art forms: Writing has enormous potential when combined with other forms of art. You can use a nature photograph as inspiration for your poem or story. Here are some tips to help you do so:
Study the photograph, taking in every detail.
Ask questions: What is happening in the photograph? What is this photograph about?What are some feelings captured in this photograph? What story does it tell? Can you connect the main object of this photograph to something happening in your community? For example, a photograph of a pine tree may remind you of the woods near your home, which are being threatened by climate change and soil degradation. Explore your connection with the photograph, being as specific and detailed as possible.
You can also make a film poem, or write poetry set to music.
Sources and Further Reading:
Feeling inspired by this resource? Craft your piece and send it to us at email@example.com by 30th September, 2022 as part of our #YourClimateStory project. Please make sure to read the detailed instructions here first.
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