5 Poems for the Planet
Poems are an amazing source of connection - with ourselves, with others, and with the natural world.
As a former English teacher, I have a special place in my heart for poetry. Poems take us straight into the emotion behind an experience, immersing us in a perspective that we may never have understood before. They act as mirrors in which we can see our own thoughts and feelings reflected back to us, as well as windows - giving us perspectives into other people’s experiences.
This World Poetry Day, I’d like to share 5 poems which inspire me to think more deeply about my relationship with others and the planet.
Just as we chose to go to the moon We know it’s never too soon To choose hope. We choose to do more than copeEarthrise, Amanda Gorman
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drinkEverything is Waiting for You, David Whyte
I want to go home, but home is the mouth of a shark home is the barrel of the gun and no one would leave home unless home chased you to the shoreHome, Warsan Shire
you are here again turning slowly nature as chameleon all life change and changing againAppalachian Elegy (Sections 1-6), bell hooks
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it's always ourselves we find in the seaMaggie and Milly and Molly and May, E.E. Cummings
This spoken word poem, written and performed by the first Youth Poet Laureate of the US Amanda Gorman, is a powerful expression of the choice we face to confront climate change and protect the “pale blue dot” we live on. It is an inspiring reminder of what the human race is capable of, a love letter to Earth, and a provocative call to action.
2. Everything is Waiting for You
This poem by David Whyte is the perfect invitation to step into the web of connections that make up our world and realise that we are not in this alone. His personification of commonplace household objects gives the poem an almost magical quality, and I love the idea that even the nonliving objects around us are able to give us strength, courage and support to head out into the world and be our truest selves.
An incredibly powerful poem by Warsan Shire on the experience of being a refugee, this poem makes me cry every time that I read it. Many of Warsan Shire’s poems reflect the experiences of her relatives who fled Somalia, and this poem truly captures the human emotion at the heart of a crisis that is so often presented to us in numbers and statistics.
4. Appalachian Elegy (Sections 1-6)
This extract from bell hooks’ Appalachian Elegy powerfully conveys not only our connection with the natural world, but our place in deep time and the world of our ancestors. hooks doesn’t shy away from the trauma of the past, but still finds hope for our relationship with each other and the natural world.
5. Maggie and Milly and Molly and May
The way E.E Cummings plays with language, structure and punctuation shows that poetry doesn’t have to be stuffy or serious to carry deep and emotional meaning. This poem describes a day at the beach, and I love the playful but poignant connections it conveys between each of the characters and the pieces of nature that they discover. The last line is always a useful reminder to me after a stressful day or an overwhelming week, that reconnecting with the natural world can help us to refind ourselves.
We often use poetry in the discussions and workshops that we deliver at Reboot the Future, because it provides a powerful jumping off point for conversation and connection. Every reader brings their own experiences and emotions to a poem, so that every time it is read, listened to, shared and discussed, it takes on new and exciting meanings. Happy reading!
By Holly Everett, Reboot's Head of Programmes and former English Teacher