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Climate Change – The Stories We Tell

Past Event
  • Presented By: Presented by Free Word at the Goethe-Institut London
  • Tue 17 Mar 2015
  • 6:30pm - 9:00pm
  • Goethe Institut, SW7 2PH

As the debate around communicating the issue of climate science rages, and the imperative of alerting the world to the impact of our changing climate becomes even more urgent, Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at UCL, reminds us, “The whole point about climate change is that it is not really about the science. It is about the sort of world we want to live in and what kind of future we want to create.” [read more]

Assessing the current political temperature and social climate, Weather Stations is an international project that places literature and storytelling at the heart of these conversations about climate change.

But how best to do this? How do writers look at climate change and write successfully about it?

As Emily Dickinson said, “Tell the truth but tell it slant.” The writer, Jay Griffiths picks up on this and takes it further: “The slanted mind. The enigmatic phrase. The allusive, elusive subject. Literature lives in these worlds, it flourishes in metaphoric thinking, in shaded meanings.” And yet, she acknowledges, “writers with a public conscience can feel that they have an unshirkable duty to tell truths unslanted, to look head-on at the situation the world faces, with climate change above all.”

Jay Griffiths will explore these issues – and more – with panel members Mirko Bonné, Weather Stations Writer in Residence at internationalesliteraturfestival berlin,  Tony White, former Writer in Residence at the Science Museum, and Chris Rapley.

This event has now passed. Listen to a podcast of the event below. You can also read an interview conducted with Mirko Bonné the day after the event here: http://www.goethe.de/ins/gb/lp/kul/dug/lit/en14311655.htm

Weather Stations logos


Weather Stations is made possible with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. This event is supported by the Goethe-Institut London.

Mirko Bonné has published five novels, five volumes of poetry, and a book of travel journals and essays. He has also translated, amongst others, the works of Sherwood Anderson, Robert Creeley, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, John Keats, Grace Paley and William Butler Yeats. He is the recipient of many awards, including the French Prix Relay du Roman d’Evasion, the Marie Luise Kaschnitz Prize and the Rainer Malkowski Prize. His novel Nie mehr Nacht was a finalist for the German Book Prize in 2013. His website is mirko-bonne.de

Jay Griffiths' non-fiction work includes Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time for which she won the Discover award for the best new non-fiction writer to be published in the USA, and Wild: An Elemental Journey, which was shortlisted for the Orwell prize for political writing and won the inaugural 2007 Orion Book Award in the USA. Her fiction A Love Letter from a Stray Moon, partly based on the life of Frida Kahlo, is also an oblique look at climate change, and her story for the climate change anthology Beacons was selected for the anthology Best British Short Stories 2014.  In 2013, she was writer in residence at PIK, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. She is the Hay Festival Fellow for 2015.

Chris Rapley is Professor of Climate Science at University College London and Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership. He was previously director of the British Antarctic Survey, and more recently, of the Science Museum. He takes a close and active interest in the benefits of fusing the activities and artists and scientists and last year performed  at the Royal Court in his play 2071. In 2008 he was awarded the Edinburgh Science Medal, “For professional achievements judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.”

Tony White’s climate change novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South was published by the Science Museum as their Atmosphere Commission 2013, and can be downloaded free from their website. His other titles include the novel Foxy-T (Faber and Faber), novellas Dicky Star and the Garden Rule (Forma) and Missorts Volume II (Situations) and numerous short stories. Tony White is currently creative entrepreneur in residence at King's College, London and chair of London's award-winning arts radio station Resonance 104.4fm.

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