Sustainability

Sustainability: COP26: Poets, climate resistance light up Glasgow with call for urgent action

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND — “We take great pride in helping foment a global poetry rebellion instigated by poets and leaders from climate-vulnerable countries, working with leaders of the Climate Vulnerable Forum in collaboration with artist Jenny Holzer, whose work to illuminate UK landmarks continues to draw attention to the climate crisis,” said Padmapani Perez, lead strategist of the Agam Agenda, which is behind the global When Is Now campaign. With high visibility in Glasgow, Scotland, light projections and street hubs today feature verse and pleas by poets and activists from Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Tanzania, and the Philippines.

Holzer’s public art, HURT EARTH, is on public display to coincide with COP26. The artwork is a collection of haunting, inspiring, and expert testimony in collaboration with the Agam Agenda, Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), and many more.

Alongside testimonies from Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, Mohamed Nasheed, and 40 other climate leaders and activists, contributors of the Agam Agenda whose writings are featured in the light projections are:

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Gawani Domogo Gaongen, Philippines (translated from the original Kankanaey into English by the author)

Islam Juma Kapera, Tanzania (translated from the original Swahili by Kelly Askew in consultation with Abdilatif Abdalla)

Shirley Campbell Barr, Costa Rica (translated from the original Spanish into English by Alexandra Walter)

Darmawati Majid, Indonesia (translated from the original Bahasa Indonesia into English by the author and Nabiha Shahab)

Yuvan Aves, India

Margarito Cuéllar, Mexico (translated from the original Spanish into English by Alexandra Walter)

Marjorie Evasco, Philippines

Luisa Igloria, USA and Philippines

Launched at the Tate Modern in London, a public arts museum that has been a decommissioned coal firing station for several decades, Holzer’s light projections bathed the building’s iconic chimney to address the climate crisis. The artwork travels to Scotland to light Edinburgh Castle, the SEC Armadillo in the official Blue Zone of COP26 in Glasgow on 8 November, followed by the Met Tower in Glasgow from 9 to 11 November, succeeded by a series of pop-up locations in Edinburgh from 12 to 14 November. It is co-curated and produced by Artwise Curators and Shore Art Advisory, in collaboration with Art For Your World, a movement by WWF to engage the art world in the fight against climate change.

The CVF is composed of 55 countries. Agam Agenda is a pioneering vulnerable country-led cultural initiative of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. The Agam Agenda works with poets, visual artists, writers, and advocates to elevate the role of the humanities in advancing effective science-driven global climate action. ICSC is a Manila-based international think tank advancing fair climate policy and resilient, low carbon development globally.

Amplifying the climate-vulnerable through poetry and art

Together with CVF Culture Ambassador, Marshall Islands climate envoy, and poet Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Agam Agenda mobilizes arts and culture initiatives of the CVF including Ñaat? When Is Now: Seeding Climate Action through the Arts: a global call for poetry and art to demand urgent action. During the CVF Leader’s Dialogue with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Jetñil-Kijiner (also a contributor to Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis) encouraged more poets and artists of CVF countries to connect and co-create the Now we need. She emphasized the role of the youth in cultivating creativity and calling for change.

Writings featured in the UK are from the Agam Agenda’s climate literature anthology, Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis, which will be published in December 2021. The book is written in nine languages using 30 images and 30 narratives in verse and prose from 24 countries. Languages include Bahasa Indonesia, Binisaya, English, French, Kankanaey, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish, and Zapotec.

COP26 takes place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021 where world leaders, government representatives, businesses, and citizens will attempt to forge agreement over twelve days to help to stay within the 1.5°C average global temperature rise prescribed by the Paris Agreement in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Visible throughout Glasgow city center are street hub artworks by the Agam Agenda conveying poetic interventions demanding climate action and highlighting the plight of vulnerable countries, environmental defenders, and indigenous communities. The street hubs were made in collaboration with Agam Agenda poets from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, and Brazilian artist Anna Denardin.

Samples of text on display in Glasgow:

“THE PARCHED WORLD BURNED AND BODIES FILLED THE EARTH AS WATERS GREW HEAVY CORAL REEFS PUT ON WHITE FUNERAL CLOTHES”

– Luisa Igloria, poet and contributor to Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis

“WE WHO ARE MOSTLY POORER COUNTRIES HAVE DONE OUR BIT TO HELP SIMPLY BY REMAINING POOR BUT THIS CANNOT GO ON”

– Mohamed Nasheed, speaker of the Maldives parliament, the former Maldives president, and ambassador for ambition of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)

Join the global poetry rebellion. Submit poetry and art to demand climate action via whenisnow.org.

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