Dear Human at the End of Time
A Call for Poems on Climate Change in the United States
Luisa A. Igloria
20th Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia 2020-22, Emerita
Poet Laureate 2019-2022, Emerita, County of San Mateo, California
Dr. Jeremy Hoffman
David and Jane Cohn Scientist at the Science Museum of Virginia; 2021 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Chapter Lead for the Southeast, Fifth National Climate Assessment, NCA5
The inequitable distribution of the impacts of climate change has never been more tangible and pressing than now. People feel as though we’re running out of time. Cities, counties, states, and public policy makers at all levels need to work together to avoid the worst effects of global warming and environmental degradation.
The human fingerprint on climate extremes is visible across nearly every domain of the natural environment, and these in turn impact human social and biological ecosystems. UN Secretary-General António Guterres says: “Climate change is happening now and to all of us. No country or community is immune.”
In the U.S., the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) report is underway, and groups of scientists from all over the country and Caribbean are overseeing the synthesis of published research for regional and topic-specific chapters. The NCA5 process is rooted in transparency and inclusivity by “offer[ing] multiple opportunities for public participation.”
As an additional opportunity to participate in the NCA5, we feel that we must tell our stories and our communities’ stories of climate change alongside this scientific information. This is a call for poems that can amplify our lived experiences of climate impacts in the Southeast and other regions; and for poets to contribute to the urgent conversations on environmental justice.
Alongside their own experiences, US-based poets are invited to consider any of the sections or a combination of sections from the following, as prompts or starters:
a) The 4th National Climate Assessment* (NCA4) Summary Findings; b) NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) State Climate Summaries; c) in addition, poets may also look at the 5th National Climate Assessment Third Order Draft (NCA5 3OD) when it becomes publicly accessible in fall 2022.
Write and send no more than two (2) new or previously unpublished poems for consideration.
Each poem submission should be the original work of the author, and no longer than 50 lines.
Only one (1) poem will be included per writer, should their work be selected.
Translations are welcome.
We invite poems especially from BIPOC poets and poets from historically underrepresented communities.
We invite poems that don’t use scientific jargon, but instead offer vivid, specific, lyrical, and original imagery and language to embody lived experiences related to climate change and/or address the theme of urgency from climate impacts in your immediate experience and in your community/region— including but not limited to extreme temperature changes, drought, wildfires, ocean rise, and extreme rainfall and flooding; asynchronies across ecosystems affecting agriculture, food distribution, plant and animal biodiversity, habitat destruction, extinction risks, environmental justice, land justice, built environment, and stories of resilience.
Even if submissions might not necessarily include solutions to the effects of climate change and related extremities in our lives, we invite poems that offer specific hopes/visions for a better world and highlight our human connections as we engage with these realities in the present moment.
The most compelling submissions will be selected for their originality, creative use of language, and adherence to the overall theme.
The language and content of all submissions must be suitable for a national, public audience. Submissions
must observe the norms of civil discourse and not contain obscenity, explicit sexual material, nudity, profanity, graphic violence, calls or incitement to violence, commercial solicitation, or promotion. Submissions must not contain material that could be considered abusive, inflammatory, denigrating, or disrespectful to any groups, individuals, or institutions.
The editors reserve the right to disqualify any submission that does not adhere to these criteria.
Accepted poems will appear on the Science Museum of Virginia website. In addition, they will be published in a print anthology with target release in late Fall 2023, when the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) is also scheduled for release.
Send your poem submission formatted as a 1-page Word document; if sending 2 poems for consideration, both should be in a single Word document labeled “Last Name, Title of (first, if two are submitted) Poem.”
If you are submitting a work of translation, include the poem in the original language alongside your English translation, with a statement of permission from the author for use in the anthology in case the work is accepted.
In the document include your name, mailing and email address, and a short bio no longer than 75 words, written in third person.
If submitting a work of translation, besides your information as translator, include the same data for the author, plus the language in which the original poem was written. .
On or before 15 December 2022.
Decisions on acceptances will be announced at or around the end of January/beginning of February 2023.
No part of this project was initiated by the Science Museum of Virginia, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), National Climate Assessment (NCA), or the US Government. Likewise, the Editors and Publisher act only in their individual capacities for this project, and not as representatives of the Science Museum of Virginia, USGCRP, NCA, or the US Government.
*More background on the US Global Change Research Program and NCA5 is available here (highlights excerpted).
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. Its mandate is to develop and coordinate “a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”
In addition to an annual report to Congress and a Strategic Plan, the GCRA mandates that USGCRP prepare and submit to the President and the Congress a quadrennial assessment, referred to as the National Climate Assessment (NCA), which:
• Integrate[s], evaluate[s], and interpret[s] the findings of the Program and discuss[es] the scientific uncertainties associated with such findings
• Analyze[s] the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity
USGCRP recognizes that a robust public engagement strategy is vital to developing a National Climate Assessment that is relevant to its users. The NCA5 process is designed to be transparent and inclusive, offering multiple opportunities for public participation. As in previous assessments, NCA5 will offer public calls for authors and for input on other key aspects of its development. In addition, NCA5 will undergo an extensive, multi-phase review process that will engage the public. This approach is designed to result in a report that is transparent, inclusive, and authoritative; valued by authors and users; and accessible to the widest possible audience….”