The Poetry of Climate Change – Jas Kapela

Writer and activist, Jas Kapela, explores his developing relationship with the environment and how he came to be interested in climate change and the role of art as a form of activism.

Jas KapelaI was never a particularly big fan of the environment. It’s either cold and rainy or it’s windy and stormy, or else it’s hot and you sweat all the time. I wasn’t too keen on the animals either. Impossible to remember all the names of all the worms and to understand why God has created them. We really need mosquitoes? So they can sting us and spread malaria? Indeed, even if they have a purpose, I’m sure it could be set up in a better way.

I kept thinking this, and perhaps it was exactly then that I stopped believing in God. If God existed, he wouldn’t have created mosquitoes. But if God doesn’t exist, then what’s the point of it all? I’m not ashamed of not having known the answer to this question for so many years. To be honest, I still can’t quite see much sense in it, beyond treating yourself nicely (and others too, ideally), doing interesting things, exploring the world… However, the more I explored the world, the more I started noticing that people are not always nice, and the interesting things they do, perhaps make the world a more interesting place, but also more scary. After all, how many pieces of information about species on the verge of extinction, about methane leaks, melting glaciers, air pollution and profiting of corporations can one read without becoming not just an unpleasant person, but bloodthirsty? Well, quite a lot.

Question1A man can get used to everything. Including the deluge of bad news. He simply stops absorbing them. A natural defense system. Without it we would have long died of an over-abundance of depressing news. But there is good news for people who like bad news. You are right. The world is heading straight to hell, the environment and the animals as we know them might soon be gone. You love most what you are about to lose. And that is how I started to love the environment and the endangered species. All in all, we all float on the same board. Luckily it is a surfing board. It’s only a pity we are right in the middle of the Pacific and there is no land in view. But one can still write poems about it.

Jas Kapela is a Polish writer, and Weather Stations artist in residence at Krytyka Polityczna in Warsaw. Jas will be discussing the topic of climate change further and performing his work at Rhyme and Reason: The Poetry of Climate Change on Wednesday 6 May at Free Word Centre. He’ll be joined by poets Inua Ellams and Victoria-Anne Bulley. Visit the event page for more information and join the Twitter discussion by following #ArtAsActivism #RhymeAndReason.