Understorey‘s Issue 17 follows a long history of nature writing, protest poems, and other forms of environmental and activist literature. This work shows that complex ideas like the climate crisis can be portrayed in very few words—if the words are carefully selected to affect us emotionally and spiritually, as well as intellectually.
On Climate and Responsibility
Read and view:
(1) “In Borneo” by Kate Rogers with Tiger from Memory by Anna Bald
(2) “Shifting Landscape” by Cathy Hird with Years Passing, Years Beginning by Brenda Whiteway
These readings explore our responsibility to do something (plant a garden) or not do something (leisure travel) during a time of crisis.
(1) How does Kate Rogers portray her guilt? How does she suggest her responsibility? What phrases, images, or devices does she use? Which of her many images makes the most impression on you or stays with you the longest?
(2) How does Anna Bald’s Tiger from Memory relate to the climate crisis and to the poem?
(3) Cathy Hird’s writing style is quite different but she also shows us her personality and her priorities through very few scenes and actions. How does she show her care and concern for the world? How does she let us know that leaving the farm was difficult without actually saying so?
(4) How does Brenda Whiteway’s painting further express these ideas—or different ideas?
(5) What responsibility do writers and artists have during a time of crisis? Is literary writing and visual art expendable or necessary? How can we make it less expendable and more necessary?
(1) Write about a time you refrained from an activity you love (like leisure travel) or took on a new challenge (like planting a garden) simply out of duty or responsibility. Write about the activity in detail but also about how you felt and how your actions affected other people around you.
(2) Follow Kate Rogers’ style to craft a poem about a pang of guilt or a surge of responsibility you felt while on a vacation.