3 Eco-Poems by Women to Come Back To
Climate change is the most pressing, all-encompassing issue of our time. As this global environmental threat worsens, natural disasters intensify, eco-systems break down, and inequality becomes even more entrenched.
Although climate change is a collective problem, women are disproportionately harmed due to already existing inequities. It makes sense, therefore, that some of the most poignant and impactful environmental poetry would come from women poets. If you’re seeking encouragement to take action, we’ve chosen three environmental-inspired poems written by women for you to come back to.
Rupi Kaur, known for her earnest and relatable writing, makes an impactful statement in this brief but effective poem. By writing from the perspective of the earth, Kaur allows the reader to feel a deeper emotional connection with our shared planet, and therefore a sense of urgency to advocate for change. /they’ve turned me into one entire bruise/ communicates the ways in which humans could cause the total destruction of natural habitats through pollution, which has a similar color as a bruise.
look at what they’ve done
the earth cried to the moon
they’ve turned me into one entire bruise
green and blue – rupi kaur
In this excerpt from Amanda Gorman’s “Earthrise,” a poem dedicated to the Climate Reality Project, Gorman encourages everyone to join the fight against climate change. The poet, who was catapulted to fame after her historic spoken word performance at the 2020 presidential inauguration, employs rhyme throughout the piece, allowing certain lines like “/ So earth, pale blue dot / We will fail you not /” to stay with the reader long after finishing the poem. As the reader contemplates these lines, they might feel activated to make a difference.
Where despite disparities
We all care to protect this world,
This riddled blue marble, this little true marvel
To muster the verve and the nerve
To see how we can serve
Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician
To make it your mission to conserve, to protect,
To preserve that one and only home
That is ours,
To use your unique power
To give next generations the planet they deserve.
We are demonstrating, creating, advocating
We heed this inconvenient truth, because we need to be anything but lenient
With the future of our youth.
And while this is a training,
in sustaining the future of our planet,
There is no rehearsal. The time is
Because the reversal of harm,
And protection of a future so universal
Should be anything but controversial.
So, earth, pale blue dot
We will fail you not.
“Rise,” a poem written and performed by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna —two Indigenous women poets — serves as a call to action. Throughout this piece, the poets converse with each other about the similar threats their vastly different homelands, the Marshall Islands (Aelon Kein Ad) and Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat) respectively, face due to climate change. Jetñil-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna address multiple intersecting systems and issues such as capitalism, environmental destruction, and attacks on indigenous rights. Take a moment to watch them perform in this beautifully-produced, poignant film.
From one island to another
I give to you these rocks
as a reminder
that our lives matter more than their power
that life in all forms demands
the same respect we all give to money
that these issues affect each and everyone of us
None of us is immune
And that each and everyone of us has to decide
It’s easy to slip into climate doomism and feel helpless, but poetry reminds us to find hope in the face of tragedy. Furthermore, when we act from a place of positivity, we’re more likely to create long-lasting, sustainable change. Overall, we hope these poems help you answer: How can you use your poetic voice as a force for change?