Where’s the poetry in today’s Climate Movement?

In the interest of Miss Gwendolyn Brooks, Black Arts Poetry and ¬†Allen Ginsberg’s “queer shoulder to the wheel”, I want to talk a little bit about poetry as a mode for change.

As some of you may know, when i’m not reading verse or fretting over thesis due dates, I organize for the Youth Climate Movement. The organization that signs my pay checks is Greenpeace, but the students I work with don’t fit into any one network. Most of them attend or have just graduated from American universities, where they work(ed) on clean energy initiatives such as shutting down the coal plant that both fires and pollutes their campus or amending the investment portfolio of said institution to keep from furthering the fossil fuel industry’s crippling monopoly. It’s exciting work and vital to the future of our planet and species alike. I feel honored to be a part of it–if only for it’s allowing me to experience that “cog in a machine so much larger than myself” feeling on a regular basis. Just this weekend, in fact, I had the immense pleasure of marching on the White House 45,000 strong to demand a #forwardonclimate initiative from our president.


(Where’s the CoPo Waldo? I’ll give you a hint: I’m the one putting a turtleneck to good use in Sunday’s 12 degree weather.)

My Point: Despite all it’s charm, creativity and (let’s be honest) just plain good looks, the Youth Climate Movement lacks that key artistic component so many of the movements before it capitalized on: a soundtrack.

I often ask myself: WHERE is the poetry which (according to Audre Lorde) “gives name to ideas that are nameless and formless, about to be birthed, yet already felt”? The poetry that is not a luxury, but a vital necessity to out existence.” WHERE is the revolutionary poem which (according to Andrienne Rich) “reminds [us ] where and when and how [we] are living and might live”? The poetry that was once described as “the wick of desire”. “The imagining of a different reality requires telling and retelling the terrible true story” wrote Miss Rich. WHERE is our poetry that narrates and witnesses?

The Civil Right’s Movement had Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise“.

The Anti-War movement had Allen Ginsberg’s “America“.

At least the Feminist effort had Andrienne Rich’s “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” to go off of.

Where’s the poetry in today’s Climate Movement?

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3 Responses to “Where’s the poetry in today’s Climate Movement?”

  1. […] nice companion blog post to this would be Abbie‘s “Where’s the poetry in today’s Climate Movement?” from February. […]

  2. ccherico says:

    YOU are the poet, Abby! THIS IS YOUR CALLING!!!
    <3 Courtney

  3. zabonhoe says:

    I completely agree. I want to know where our poets in this generation are. We are dealing with civil rights issues, green ideas for the future, and social class oppression. I have done many duties thus far to work with GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) individuals by fundraising, volunteering, protesting delegates, and hands on experience with youth in disturbing situations of abuse, assault, battery, and suicide attempts. However, I don’t see a change in events. I don’t see the Luther of our generation nor have I seen our Miller stand and I most definitely have yet to witness Hughes of our generation speak the words of movement and color. Does anyone feel empowered or obligated anymore? Do people feel that change is still boiling? I see it in some places and on some networks, but as far as the names and faces of the poets at work go, I have yet to hear or learn their names. Maybe one day we could be those people of empowerment and our dedication can be to the magnificent Dr. Scan[sion]lon (sounds like a homeland)! These are just a few words of hope and inspiration.