Archive for the ‘climate change’ Tag

RE: Itō Jetnil-Kijiner Niviana Pato

A lot of poetry stories get conveyed down my newsfeed. Here’re three of special http _upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_thumb_1_12_Plato-4.png_200px-Plato-4significance from this week.

First is a short film of Hiromi Itō reading her poem “The Moon”. Itō is (in)famous in Japan, often credited with opening the space for a frank, fresh, new women’s writing. I discovered her in Rothenberg’s and Joris’ Poems for the Millenium, then her Killing Kanoko, a selection of poems translated by Jeffrey Angles, whose title poem recounts the common but no less hair-raising homicidal resentment mothers feel for their newborns. I still owe Action Books a review of her Wild Grass of the Riverbank—watch for it here….

Next is a short article by Bill McKibben concerning the poets Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Aka Niviana, two young women, one from the Marshall Islands, the other from Greenland, who grapple with the realities of climate change poetically, a topic often ventured here. I already knew of Jetnil-Kijiner:  I teach her poem “Dear Matafele Peinam” every year to my introductory English students.

Finally is an interview with a poet not too well known in Anglophone poetry circles (or so it seems to me), Chus Pato, arguably one of the most important poets writing in Galician.

 

Replies to Mayer Hillman

Four_Horsemen_of_the_Apocalypse_-_Eduard_Jakob_von_Steinle

At the end of April, The Guardian published a dour interview with social scientist Mayer Hillman, wherein he pronounces “We’re doomed.”

Said interview resulted in some tangled discussion threads that, in turn, resulted in some poems (here, here, and here), and some friends’ sharing the interview on-line—again!—prompted the following intervention.

 

Replies to Mayer Hillman

                “We’re doomed.”

 

Your therapist would guide you

gently to see you’re fortune telling.

 

The dialectician would unfold the thought

that determination does not

 

foreclose unforeseen developments

being the condition of its own negation.

 

A happy chance slip of memory recalls

“What is real now was only once imagined”.

One for Tuilaepa Sailele, avant la lettre

Sailele, the prime minister of Samoa, delivered a speech in Sydney, Australia, 30 August Tuilaepa-Sailele2018, wherein he said that “Any leader … who believes that there is no climate change I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement, he is utter[ly] stupid and I say the same thing for any leader here who says there is no climate change.”

2012, the year the world was supposed to end, I had a similar sentiment, except, of course, expressed poetically. You can read it here.

NaPoMo (n+3): a clarification

The two or three poems inspired yesterday by a Guardian interview with social scientist Mayer Hillman (see the two previous posts), also prompted one reader to comment on the poems, two of which use Mayer’s own words expressing the sentiment that, given civilization is doomed, we’d be better to attend other, more pleasant matters, such as music, love, education, and happiness.

The comment inadvertently touched on the issue of the truth of poetry and the poet’s relation to the thoughts expressed by the words of the poem, that yesterday’s three, impromptu poems might suggest some agreement with Hillman’s gloom and prescriptions.

Five years back mulling over the same matter I composed an ironic indictment, which, Luitspelende jonge manafter some little fiddling this morning, turned out, spontaneously, to be the fourteen-line poem that follows. Whether it provides any clarification as to my own stance on the issue, I leave to the reader.

 

Chance Sonnet: 

“BE IT RESOLVED…”

 

BE IT RESOLVED that

whereas public officials

who deny the reality

 

of Anthropogenic Climate Change

and hinder efforts to mitigate

its destructive effects present

 

a clear and present danger

to themselves and others,

said public officials should be

 

removed from office forthwith

and placed under a physician’s care

until such time as their suicidal

 

and/or homocidal and/or ecocidal

tendencies cease to present.

NaPoMo (n+2): Two for Mayer Hillman

Two for Mayer Hillman

 

1.

So much depends

upon

 

fossil fuels except

music,

 

love, education, and

happiness.

 

Focus on these

things.

 

 

2.

Asked what he would do were the world to end

next day, Luther replied, “Plant an apple tree.”

NaPoMo (n): a serendipitous poem

Combing through with no small pleasure the Seculum trilogy of Peter Dale Scott, HP Lego yarn twister 01preparing a talk I’m to give at a humanities conference at the end of May, I wound up at the same time in a short Facebook thread back and forth with a teaching colleague, which inspires the improvised poem, dedicated to him, below:

 

So many aspects of life

For Shawn Bell, composer

 

We read the same Guardian article

this morning, though you chose to share it.

 

Mayer Hillman, 86: We’re doomed

…making a case for [re?]cycling…

 

is almost irrelevant. We’ve got to stop

burning fossil fuels. I commented

 

you’d forgotten his most important words:

Standing in the way is capitalism

 

Your reply in its current form

and though I am not unacquainted

 

with Isaiah’s singing the lion shall lie down

with the lamb and I’m the first

 

to remark the confusion of first

and second nature in Adorno’s

 

If the lion had a consciousness

his rage at the antelope he wants

 

to eat would be ideology

I answered The dream of postwar

 

social democracy that capitalism

could be tamed by the rule of law

 

is as realistic as thinking

a lion can be trained to be vegan

 

And though we continued twisting into

that thread strands of current models


of socio-economic organization

in particular capitalism and socialism

 

big data and AI

The Communist Hypothesis

 

and the Enlightenment’s faith

in its overcoming its own

 

fateful dialectic Hillman’s words

free of the snarl

 

of our disagreement

need here be repeated

 

So many aspects of life

depend on fossil fuels

 

except for music

and love and education

 

and happiness. These things

we must focus on.

 

 

 

 

 

On the end of the Doha Climate Change Conference: a poem and commentary

Brushfires from Colorado
to Croatia; floodwaters
deeper than memory

drown southern Russia
and Thailand; tornadoes
plough the Midwest;

record hurricanes on
the Eastern Seaboard.
Humanity betrays all

the collective intelligence
of a bacterium
in a petri dish.

Although the poem above was composed in Berlin this past summer, today its sentiment seems prescient of what many of those of us who care about the fate of civilization feel. A lone voice speaks to the issue in Canada’s parliament, and in the face of suicidal official denial and incapacity, it would be barbaric not to lend a poetic voice in support. Posting a poem, of all things, must seem a futile gesture, but its impulse takes inspiration from Luther, who, asked what he would do if he knew the world were to end tomorrow answered, “Plant an apple tree.”