Usawa’s June issue is dedicated to our planet and all the different intersections that allows. I wanted this issue’s Poetry Section to reflect on conceptual, philosophical, social and political foundations of a new era of citizen science. The section does indeed reflect work that reconsiders conventional wisdom about correlation and causation vis a vis the Earth and the manner in which we inhabit it. These poems refuse to turn away from the climate catastrophe and species extinction. They give climate, nature and pollution the prominence it deserves. They are sincerely invested in sustainability and biodiversity. At this pivotal time for our species and our planet, literature has taken on the mantle of informing readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on scientific facts, not political prejudice or business interests.
I cannot help but share a few relevant statistics here. According to Global Forest Watch, India has lost more than 1,20,000 hectares of primary forests in the last 5 years alone. In all probability, we have also lost an equal amount of green cover to road-widening projects and related infrastructure development. How many old trees – mangoes, neem, jamun and banyans – have been axed to widen the roads around our cities? No one seems to know or care. But everyone can see that the rampant tree-felling has drastically changed the climate for the worse, exponentially driven up air pollution levels, and changed temperatures so that day and night summer heat is close to infernal.
Felling trees is just one dimension of climate change. There are so many more that require our urgent attention as well. As poets and writers we need to pick up our pens and sensitise readers to the tragic impact of climate catastrophe- the worst of them being species extinction.
In his essay "The Myth of Sisyphus," Albert Camus says the only serious philosophical question is suicide. And here we are about to commit planet suicide.
In "Weightlifter Poems," Joe Bolton, a poet who committed suicide a month before his collection of poems was to be released, wrote :
Not of cancer, not of old age,
As when the bar slips
And the iron comes crashing through my chest
Like the planet through some unlucky ceiling.
And I will be the man No one remembers
J o e B o l t o n ' s poetry, from The Last Nostalgia: Poems 1982-1990.
When we love the earth, we are able to love ourselves more fully. I believe this. Our ancestors believed it. Let’s put it into practice. I hope each of the poems here speak to you as they did to me. I’d like to sincerely thank each and every contributor for their heartfelt writing. I hope they will make your sensibilities shift on the fulcrum and allow you to lean towards saving the planet, rather than destroying it.
In solidarity with all species