Talks & debates

Eco-Poetry: Poetry and Climate Change

Part of London Literature Festival

Poetry has long been concerned with our relationship with the natural world. In this event we explore its response to the challenges of climate change, with readings and discussion from Icelandic poet Sjón, British-Jamaican poet Karen McCarthy Woolf, American poet Joy Harjo and poet of French-Welsh-Pakistani descent Pascale Petit.

Joy Harjo is an American poet. Her eight books of poetry include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems and She Had Some Horses. Harjo’s memoir Crazy Brave won several awards, including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the American Book Award. She is the recipient of the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for proven mastery in the art of poetry; a Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the United States Artist Fellowship. In 2014 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. A renowned musician, Harjo performs with her saxophone nationally and internationally, solo and with her band, the Arrow Dynamics. She is Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic novelist and poet. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox, and his novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. His novel Moonstone – The Boy Who Never Was from 2013 received every major literature prize in Iceland. Sjón’s biggest work to date, the trilogy CoDex 1962 was published in its final form in the autumn 2016 to great acclaim and is forthcoming in English from Sceptre. He has published nine poetry collections, written four opera librettos and lyrics for various artists. In 2001, he was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in the film Dancer In The Dark. Sjón's novels have been published in 35 languages.

Karen McCarthy Woolf, a British-Jamaican poet is releasing her second collection, Seasonal Disturbances, in June. Drawing on her preoccupations with the environment (she was poet in residence at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and is completing a PhD at Royal Holloway on hybridity in poetry and how this informs ways in which we might write about nature), Seasonal Disturbances is a charged yet meditative exploration of the relationship between nature, the city and the self in the 21st century, set against a backdrop of ecological, political and emotional turbulence. Karen is an accomplished performer, having read at multiple events worldwide, including at Southbank Centre and the Breaking Ground Black British Writers USA tour, and is a regular on Radio 3’s The Verb.

Pascale Petit’s seventh collection, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017), is the Poetry Book Society Autumn Choice and draws on her travels in the Peruvian Amazon. It is set in a psychiatric ward and in the Amazon rainforest, an asylum for animals on the brink of extinction. It celebrates the precariously balanced beauty of the wild, whether in the mind or the natural world. Her sixth book, Fauverie, was her fourth to be shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and five poems from it won the Manchester Poetry Prize. Pascale has had three collections selected as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, The Independent and The Observer. Her books have been translated into Spanish (in Mexico), Chinese, French and Serbian. In 2015 she received a Cholmondeley Award.

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Royal Festival Hall
Level 5 Function Room, Green Side


Included in Pass
£15, £25

need to know

BSL Interpretation
This event is British Sign Language-interpreted. To join our free Access Scheme and book concessionary tickets for this service, email or call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555.

This event is included in both the Poetry International Sunday Pass and the Poetry International Weekend Pass.