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#COP22poem: A Climate of Creativity

  • By Lora Christy
  • 18th November 2016
As part of the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP22) Dan Simpson crowdsourced this poem; we asked you to join in to help us create a brand new climate change-themed poem authored by you, the global community.

We crowdsourced a poem as part of COP22 (7-18 November 2016) and we asked you to join in!

During COP22, poet Dan Simpson crowdsourced a poem about climate change for Free Word. A crowdsourced poem is made entirely from words submitted by the public, then cut-up and re-mixed to create a brand new piece owned and authored by the public.

As COP22 discussed this huge, global issue in Marrakesh, we invited you to be part of the conversation by sharing your words to help create the poem. Responses could be individual words, whole sentences, a bit of a creative writing – there was no right or wrong answer. Dan then took everyone’s words, cut them up, and recombined them to craft a new, crowdsourced poem – made by you, part of the global community.

We’re featuring this poem on our website, tweeting it out to arts and environmental organisations and making a creative, global contribution to the discussion taking place about what our future world might look like. All contributors have been credited in this piece of digital art!

To engage with the poem tweet us @FreeWordCentre, Dan @dansimpsonpoet or with the hashtag #COP22poem.

The final poem was revealed on Friday 18 November – the final day of the conference – and you can read (and listen to) it below.

A Climate of Creativity

“I can’t breathe”

the Earth says
“and where’ve all my fish gone?
all those unique species?
hearts of millions

Earth screeching:
“No, no, I couldn’t eat another thing.
Why do you bite the hand that feeds
over and over again?
Greedy. Selfish.
no progress:

‘It’s causes are not anthropomorphic’?
Science jargon.
‘Well, if it means warmer summers I’m all for it’?
I loathe your rusty minds
you’re not exactly a rebel
you are unearthly
there’s no place in the sun for us both.”

Forewarned, displaced passion ends in shadow
lost love, dark dust doomed
viscose thoughts of a dirty romance
black, and cold
thinking about going it alone
breaking ice, breaking sweat
cold steam crashing waves on rocks
lonely parts per million spread in liquid
blurred stars if she deserts us.

Against these issues
it’s hard to find renewable energy
some soil resilience
it’s not easy, standing up
to gain height and take light
the choke-weed climbs a strong host
the trespass of the sun, a faded splendour
a poisonous gift
sick burns the colour of orange
too hot.

But try anyway
take time rooting down
the problem’s not about knowing what to do
it’s knowing that if we do nothing:
dry soil
hyperactive wind
mad clouds and yellow moon.

When the climate’s climactic
the message goes up in smoke
we don’t get a carbon captured future
all the other ones melted
no refreezing, no reset.

Draw lessons like sap
a letter on a tree’s core:
we’ve got a lot in common with the world
together we can be ordinary heroes
we have to start moving now, even if only a fraction
solid moves – to zero carbon
tectonic tactics can move entire continents into action.


Dee Ashton
Barbara Brownskirt
Maya Chowdhry
Will Conway
Colin Dardis
Barry Fentiman-Hall
Bob Hill
Sarah Hobbs
Sam Illingworth
Justine Kenyon
Ray Laurence
Jeremy LeLean
Lakeisha Lynch-Stevens
Ella McLellan
Elizabeth Rae
Hannah Robot-Dunlop
Jojo Scoble
Rachel Shannon
Burt Williamson
Dr. Chand Zahid

Dan Simpson is a poet, performer, and producer whose subjects include science and technology; history and place; geek culture and videogames; people and poetry. A former Canterbury Laureate, Dan has appeared at Glastonbury and on the BBC. He was Poet-in-Residence at Waterloo Station, Knole House, and Canterbury Roman Museum. Dan creates pioneering work using crowdsourced and outdoor poetry for organisations such at the Royal Academy of Arts, National Museum of Scotland, and the European Commission. He has had work commissioned by Southbank Centre, Free Word, and Corinium Museum, and his first collection is Applied Mathematics from Burning Eye Books. Dan is on Twitter @dansimpsonpoet and you can visit his website here.

About COP22

In 1994 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. The Conference of the Parties (COP) was designated as the supreme governing body of the Convention and meets annually to agree global approaches to reducing greenhouse gas concentration.

At Free Word, we see literature and writing as a powerful tool for encouraging people to act on climate change. Through our programme, Living Dangerously: Stories of Climate Change, we’ve teamed up with partners from the UK and around the world to commission authors and host writers’ residencies, bringing you stories that will engage you in the climate change conversation. You can see the creative work that we commissioned around COP21 last year, Stories of Climate Change, here, and also our climate change-themed spoken word poetry competition here.


Read about the Conference of Parties and learn how to be a #COPtimist in a summary by Julie’s Bicycle, a creative community powering action on climate change: www.juliesbicycle.com/work/how-to-be-a-coptimist

Read BBC News’s overview about the Conference of Parties here.

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