Poetry for Climate Change: The powerful exploration of ‘Solastalgia’


Phoebe Pullen, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton

In partnership with It’s Freezing in LA!, a magazine focusing on climate change, Wimbledon BookFest host an evening of climate change poetry incorporated with the art of spoken word.

Solastalgia is the emotional trauma that people experience when places they love are destroyed by climate change. Poets Imogen Malpas, Lee McClellan, Rhea Nandy, Katie Silver, Phoebe Thomson and Veera Vehmas gripped the audience into climate change’s ever-growing submission, and shined light upon the reality that climate change is impacting the world around us. Furthermore, they formulated a vision of what our future would be like if the world continues as it is.

Poems such as ‘And where did all the stars go?’, and ‘Recovery’, are set in what can be interpreted as a dystopian future, where seeing stars in the night sky will just be a distant memory, or living off of powdered rations in wastelands is the norm. The cogent factor to these poems is that these ‘dystopian’, and unfathomable futures might not be that distant after all. The hyperbolic nature of the poems is contrasted by the possible reality that this could be our future.

Certain poems brought forward the idea of single-use plastic making humans immortal. Once you buy and submit to the single-use plastic industry, that purchase will forever be your legacy, sitting in landfills. This is echoed in ‘Recovery’, by Veera Vehmas, set in another ‘dystopian’ future, when ‘decade old yogurt tubs’ are described as relics, and ‘fingerprints in the landscape’. The poet’s strong use of decaying imagery was impactful and created imagery that could be potentially mirrored with the condition of today’s Earth.

The poems, accompanied by the soulful musical responses by Plumm and Rudy, created a powerful and emotional artform, whilst simultaneously creating an unmistakable identity for climate change. Climate change is an issue that has not been taken seriously for too long, and we are now facing the consequences. The poetry left me with a harrowing acknowledgement for my own involvement in the climate change and incited me to contribute even more to the salvation of our planet.