Is it time to join the global poetry rebellion? Most likely. She asks you only one question, the penultimate question: in the face of the climate crisis, when to act is the only real option left, when, exactly, now?

Give the website a seed – a new eight-line poem. Or choose opening lines from any of the previously submitted seeds to germinate your own. Answer the question, as poets and artists from places like Guam, Malawi, Nigeria, Nepal, Guatemala, Colombia and the Philippines have done. Encourage your niece and neighbor to participate. Share pictures.

We are now facing the great unraveling, when notions of modernity have returned unadorned as the vanities they have always been – the thought that without consequences we can live indefinitely off the wealth of the earth without worrying about the prospects of regeneration.

Yet today we seem less and less consoled by the technical explanations for the loss when so few are buoyed by the scientific possibilities of renewal. We are bombarded daily with tales of cascading calamity, each seemingly urging many to look askance, further testing what Holocaust scholar Carolyn J. Dean once called “the fragility of empathy.”

The magisterium of science and policy-making remains deeply essential to understanding and combating the forces unleashed by greed. But on their own, they have also proved insufficient, the questions they raise, limited.

In Frank Herbert’s first book, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam spoke of “a world being the sum of many things – people, dirt, growing things, moons, tides, suns – the sum unknown called nature, a vague summary with no sense of the present. And Paul Atriedes asked himself: “What is the now?

Beyond the numbers lies the algebra of our fears. Beyond temperature thresholds, the fractal calculus of dispossession and discontent. Beyond the cold caves of calculation measuring atmospheric concentrations in parts per million lies the verve of worms tracing the outlines of a world ready to be remade. Beneath the stratosphere lies the warmth of our lives, of our stories.

In the poem Our Bodies Remember, Kenyan artist Wangui wa Kamonji offered WhenIsNow a first seed.

“Come closer,” waved wa Kamonji.

Tell me about my body.
He suffers these days with such strange pains.
I wonder, do these bodies know their ways
Longer? And when will they remember?
Will old, scattered seeds grow back?

Wa Kamonji posed a compelling question:

What time does the memory lesson start?
Could you tell me? I don’t want to be late.
In the meantime, come. Let’s get together.
This cold pushes the knives through
My bones still young. And my chest
Becomes thick and heavy, although I continue to breathe.

From the seed of wa Kamonji germinated a Russian poem by Daniel Voskoboynik entitled When Is Now. Voskoboynik used part of wa Kamonji’s verse for his first line:

do these bodies know their ways anymore?
do our manners remember our bodies?
are these voices still holding their breath?
here in our shattering sanctuaries
a convergence of languages ​​finds its fluidity
the broken flower, the heavier wave,
the wound too wide for a wound
as sorrow engulfs ritual, the heavens exhale calendars of end
put your palm on this stretched season: listen, because
attention is a moving memory, a return rigor
against the ravages of obstinate silence
world, it’s love, it’s you
bless what haunts us in healing.

Since wa Kamonji’s first offering, two others have blossomed: writer Robert Macfarlane, author of the acclaimed book Underland, branched out with Pack The Hall To The Rafters using a line from Our Bodies Remember to deploy his fern:

What time does the memory lesson start? Could you tell me?
I don’t want to be late, because I want to remember –
When the yellow ducks couldn’t swim across the glacier;
When the river was alive and silver like an eel;
When the beeches hadn’t begun their long march north;
When the ground did not speak in the stars of drought.
Can you show me how to read the time? How?

Now. Class starts now.
But the clouds are the teachers,
And the seeds, the rain, the air —
So make more room in the back.
Pack the room to the rafters, creatures.

From Macfarlane’s branch, a poem called Frogs Need Friendship grew, maintained by Indian naturalist and author Neha Sinha:

When I asked the tree why it was crying, it said its buttress had been swept away,
In a concrete belt.
When I asked the frog why he left, he said he felt lonely on dry cement.
When I asked the Minister why we liked cement, he replied that it was
For him, me and my country: and racing dreams, doubling the GDP.
When will we break the cement boundaries, put away the things that commit murder?
When are we going to “wind down” to foster frog friendship?
When will we rise to hold trees, not offerings, like motherships?
We will do that tonight. Call my mothers, call my sisters, call my daughters.
So make more room in the back, fill the hallways to the rafters,
Take root, plant a seed: tonight we are decarbonizing.
Take root, plant a seed: tonight we decolonize.

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