Tag Archive for: humanity

What do you do when you are a god – but powerless and unable to prevent one of your favourite species from their insatiable, accelerating death wish? Do you try to shout louder and more insistently, or instead reinvent yourself as a troubadour of romantic ruin? Such are the dilemmas posed by Rishi Dastidar in his third poetry collection Neptune’s Projects, a reshaping of mythology for the climate crisis era which gives bold consideration to the stark choices we face. A post-apocalyptic jig and reel, these poems are compelling, deadpan yarns of the sea, full of both fury and fun. In Neptune’s Projects the end of humanity is made wry, thrilling – and alive.

‘Rishi Dastidar is a ludic myth-maker, a satirist of keen eye and big heart. These poems of the sea and shores of this ‘tight little island’ bite back with verve and gallows wit.’ ~ Karen McCarthy Woolf

‘There has always been an intersection between poetry and the natural world. Now here comes Rishi Dastidar’s Neptune to add wit, postmodern panache and mythic irony to the tradition of the open sea. A richly rewarding read.’ ~ Roger Robinson 

Rishi Dastidar was guest contributor to May 2023’s What We’re Reading Now. Discover some of his recommended eco-writing here.

Twenty thousand years after a catastrophe wiped out the human race, visitors uncover their final messages scattered across the planet, in flooded cities and disintegrating books. These writings reveal the tragedies of people who continued to live as they always did—fearfully, selfishly—even as the end of their world loomed.

These haunting stories within a story, together with a powerful selection of poems, fables, and essays, are a necessary reminder of the beauty of the earth and the importance of addressing the climate crisis with clarity, artistry, and passion.

 

Ben Okri is a longtime friend and collaborator with Writers Rebel; watch his speech, ‘Can’t You Hear the Future Weeping?’, recorded with Writer’s Rebel’s Paint the Land project in 2021, in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow, UK.

Oryx and Crake is the first book in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy MaddAddam. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future around the year 2050 and centres on the main character called Snowman. As the only human left on earthSnowman is tasked with teaching a group of humanoids known as Crakers. All the while he is dwelling on the past, his lost-love Oryx and the devastating set of events that brought him to this place.

 

Ricky Ray entwines the beauty of the world and his love of life with the weight of physical pain he shoulders daily, in this stunning chapbook which urges you to find new meaning in nature’s mysterious workings: “Every time I look up/ into a canopy, I see a mind at work.”

In The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself, Ricky Ray invokes the animalistic yet the utterly, undeniably humane. Visiting the most intimate corners of memory, this is a chapbook that promises linguistic prowess and the healing – however raw – of the ache of living. From Indiana, Florida, and Oklahoma to the inescapable moment of our own death, the moment the sun sinks below the horizon, the moment “the cancer / bloomed like an angry / flower in her liver”, Ray’s language is masterful, transfixed on elevating the mundane and exposing every private moment of our existence. ~ Kayla Jenkins, Writer

What happens when the heroes disappear, when the battle for the city is over, when you return to the island and find a box in your hands? There was an instruction once that told us why the box should never be opened. But you don’t believe those stories anymore. You always open the box.

After Ithaca is a non-fiction work – part memoir, part essay, part travelogue – that follows a real life journey of descent in a world on the tip of crisis. It is set in the Peruvian rainforest, in the backrooms of Suffolk towns, in Japan, in France, Australia, in the desert borderlands, in borrowed houses and Occupy tents, in kitchens and burial chambers, underneath a lemon tree on an abandoned terrace…

The book revolves around the four initiatory tasks of Psyche, set by Venus, the goddess of love and justice: four territories that map this search for meaning and coherence in a time of fall. Each chapter starts with a memory of place as a clue to the investigation: the recovery of a relationship with wild nature, with being human, a kind of archaeology for the pieces of self that lie missing beneath a broken storyline, like the shards of a pot.

It is a personal story and also a social story, about the relinquishment of a certain world, that looks at writing as an existential practice: showing how myth can be a technique for finding our lost voice, our medicine of how to put a crooked thing straight.

How to pull ourselves out of the wreckage, and start again.

 

Purchase After Ithaca: Journeys in Deep Time at Dark Mountain Books

From the War on Terror to resistance in Ramallah and traumatic dislocation in the Middle East, Berger explores the uses of art as an instrument of political resistance. Visceral and passionate, Hold Everything Dear is a profound meditation on the far extremes of human behaviour, and the underlying despair.

Looking at Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq, he makes an impassioned attack on the poverty and loss of freedom at the heart of such unnecessary suffering.

These essays offer reflections on the political at the core of artistic expression and even at the center of human existence itself.

‘Even though I have been looking at a world rocked by oil dependency and climate change for over a decade, the books I return to are about ways of being human that endure, that show a glimpse of the future embedded in time/physical. Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance is a slim book about a journey to Palestine written with the spare poetry and intellectual fire of old age. John Berger goes to the front line and sees for himself how the Palestinian people are living. He looks at the hyperreality of the media, the business of war, at poverty and privilege. He stands by a group of donkeys and by a young boy watering aubergines under olive trees and locates himself in an ancient land. He sits at his writing desk at night and addresses the dead revolutionary artists he once knew. The future is fraternal, he says. He is 79 years old and he is still a Marxist and reading these pages you know why. When the storm advances, hold everything dear, he is telling us. The people that matter, the trees that matter, the life that matters.’ – Charlotte Du Cann, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

Purchase Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance at Hive online bookshop

 

What begins as the record of W.G. Sebald’s own journey on foot through coastal East Anglia, from Lowestoft to Bungay, becomes the conductor of evocations of people and cultures past and present.

From Chateaubriand, Thomas Browne, Swinburne and Conrad, to fishing fleets, skulls and silkworms, the result is an intricately patterned and haunting book on the transience of all things human.

‘The narrator walks a metaphysical path along coastal edge of Suffolk, past its abandoned great houses and fishing fleets, placing his melancholic gaze on the underbelly of Empire. A journey that weaves in the lives of poets and philosophers, Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, the Empress Tzu, the silkworm industry of Norwich, the bombing of German cities in WWII, the invisible cruelty of hierarchies that keeps us caught in the repeating wheel of History.’ – Charlotte Du Cann, guest contributor to May 2022’s Rebel Library Recommends

 

Purchase The Rings of Saturn from Hive online bookshop