Last month (Jun 2014) I attended my first Tipping Point event called “Weatherfronts”. Held at the fantastic Free Word Centre in London. I spent two days listening and talking to an amazing range of writers, scientists, activists and academics about the role of writers in affecting positive change in the fight against climate change.
The writers’ development agency New Writing North nominated me for the event as they were aware of my interest in the life and work of US marine biologist Rachel Carson. (I write about Carson in other sections of this website.) However, 2014 has seen an explosion of interest in my Carson inspired work. I am not sure why. Sometimes a longstanding personal interest transcends the boundary between private and public. Never having any real science training myself I think I’ve always felt slight wary of seeing my passion for Carson’s books as anything other than an issue of personal taste. However, a couple of years ago I started to wonder how other people felt about Carson’s work and its significance to us as a species inhabiting a small planet in an immense, almost incomprehensibly large universe. What I found engaged and shocked me and I now see it as my duty as a poet to write about and through Carson’s prose. It might sound weird to say that, but that is how I feel…
Inspired by Carson’s books and correspondence I have begun a new strand of practice-led research that combines hydrokinetic engineering with art-science writing. My writing is in its developmental stages but I hope to build momentum over the coming months, draft more poems, attend more events, meet more people and work in collaboration with biologists, sound artists and digital/web designers to create a whole suite of Carson-inspired, ecopoetic work.
Central to all of this is my own new poems: a new sequence with the working title “Darlings, deletions” is currentlty emerging and I read a selection of these new works at the Weatherfronts event in June. The eponymous poem and two others, “Lost Woods” and “Tidal” were well-received and I got a lot of interesting and positive feedback from my fellow delegates.
It’s all a work in progress. But, isn’t everything? I have read and re-read Carson’s books for many years and now seems the time to write about her. Her work is hydropoetic and hugely important in many aspects of my life. I like to think she’d approve of what I am doing…her writing has changed me in so many ways.