Poet Amandeep Singh's spoken-word poetry for CEEW's 'Love in the Times of Climate Change' campaign
Image: Sankhadeep Banerjee for Forbes India
Subtle, nuanced storytelling about climate change also found expression through poetry and the spoken word at thinktank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) recently when it tied up with a few performance poets to come up with a series titled ‘Love in the Times of Climate Change’, which explores the universal theme of love while acknowledging climate change as an accepted reality.
CEEW had earlier worked with performance poet Simar Singh, whose interpretation of a 150-page report (Stockholm+50: Unlocking a Better Future) in the form of a poem ‘Portrait of a Silver Lining’, made a call for bold climate action and accountability to heal the planet.
When CEEW again reached out to Singh, also the founder of UnErase Poetry, a platform for promoting spoken word artistes in India, with the idea for a series, he was, says Alina Sen, senior communications specialist and archivist at CEEW, excited and keen to do more poems along with his cohort. A workshop with a few shortlisted poets followed, where they discussed climate change and its nuances, including small and large impacts that we see today. The mandate was to write a love poem based on their personal experiences, but which would have glimpses of climate change impacting or shaping their story.
“If I knew like 30 to 40 percent, they filled me up till 60 or 70 percent with the latest updates and the research they had. And then we tried working on a piece and they helped us work on the facts,” says one of the poets and writer Amandeep Singh whose poems always had an element of the way nature and industry coexisted in Jamshedpur, where he grew up, but weren’t climate centric per se, adding that the climate change factor even now had to be subtle and not preachy. “We came to this resolution that we’ll not go out and tell people, ‘OK, don’t do this, don’t do that’. We’ll tell them a beautiful story, where we’ll leave anecdotes, we’ll leave ideas and we’ll leave awareness around climate change,” says the writer of the poem ‘Wo Laut Aai’, which subtly but surely interweaves electric vehicles and solar panels into a love story. Also read: Can graphic novels and cartoons raise awareness about climate change? These artists are leading the way
The poems, seven in all, including Simar Singh’s ‘I love her like a solar panel loves the sun’ were launched on World Poetry Day in March and by mid-August had got 54 lakh views across the seven poets, across the poems, reels and “the multiple ways in which we amplify it”, says Sen.