On Thursday, 1 October, Geopoetry 2020 will bring together poets and geoscientists to discuss how, in an era of climate change, their disciplines can influence each other. Headlined by John Hegley, the free event also features Yvonne Reddick, Norrie Bissell, Alyson Hallett, Ken Cockburn. With the pandemic taking place, the event is taking place virtually; you can register for the event here.
The organisers of the event discuss their inspiration and what to expect.
The inspiration for the Geopoetry 2020 meeting came from an earlier meeting (Geopoetry 2011, London). Organised by the Geological Society of London. Brian Lovell, the convenor, published a summary of that meeting which ended with the following call-to-arms:
‘We have travelled from a feeling of mastery over all Earth’s creatures, to passivity in the face of geological forces apparently way beyond our control, to a growing apprehension that we may be marking our own stewardship of the blue planet in a fashion we would not wisely choose. Poets and geologists have a common cause: a search for words to help us to understand what we do.’
So the precedent was set and plans for Geopoetry 2020 started to take shape under Patrick Corbett’s guidance. Geology has inspired many poets over the years; W.H. Auden’s ‘In Praise of Limestone’ for example, and provides a continued point of reference for active poets. In the wider sense, the established field of Geopoetics goes beyond traditional earth science subjects, more typically showcased by the Geological Society. ‘It has something to say to all disciplines, and enters into areas beyond humanism as habitually understood’ as Kenneth White (founder of the International Institute of Geopoetics) told Corbett in the lead up to the meeting. Many geologists are writing poetry and many contemporary poets continue to be inspired by geology. Everyday human issues of concern; such as climate change, resource development, landscape constancy, resilience, and water resources; all lend themselves to geological imagery.
The support of the Scottish Poetry Library has enabled the meeting to tap into this wider seam of creativity. Both poetry and geology explores uncertainties in meaning, while poets and geologists have a creative way with words.
The Geopoetry 2020 online meeting promises to bring together a wide range of interests – with some contributions also set alongside music, photographs or artwork. Being an online meeting, the audience could now be significantly larger and more geographically diverse, than originally hoped for. The poems collected together for the meeting are destined for future publication by the Edinburgh Geological Society – to be the first published collection of Geopoetry. Where better to bring poets and geology closer together than Edinburgh! Unfortunately, Covid-19 has prevented us gathering in person.
However, Geopoetry 2020 originally was to feature a walk on Arthur’s Seat accompanied by poetry readings as part of the meeting. It was to be led by Dr Yvonne Reddick (University of Central Lancashire). Yvonne has kindly agreed to lead a replacement socially-distanced walk on Saturday 29th August, leaving from the steps of Dynamic Earth at 2:00pm. Anyone interested in joining this excursion should email Patrick Corbett (firstname.lastname@example.org) in case plans have to change.