May 25, 2022, by Ruth Musson

Hot Poets and Scientists

Hot Poets is an Arts Council funded project about powerfully communicating climate science and action through spoken word poetry. It is supported by National Poetry Day, the Met Office, the RSPB, the London School of Economics and many big name partners.  Gail Webb was inspired to write this poem by the valuable plant research of our own Dr Alexandra Burgess.  Gail intends that her poem also provides hope amongst all the challenging but important climate change messages.

The poets involved in this project are working independently with our support to reach out to scientists, climate change organisations, educators and experts. They are seeking advice and information to inform their creative research and help them write scientifically rigorous poetry.  


Harvesting The Light by Gail Webb 
Inspired by Dr Alexandra Burgess’s work on plant architecture, intercropping and agroforestry.

Plants. I know about these.
They grow in my garden,
in planters on city streets,
sneak into verges,
never discreet. They thrust and sow
through cracks in pavements, or
around the front door,
wherever we go, they grow.

Remember school? We plant seeds,
one each in a paper cup,
press in with a finger, into damp earth where nature
lingers. Watch it reach for the bright
touch of sun’s honey – drips.
Some water, some time,
shoots peek out, thirsty for light.

We cultivate tomatoes, herbs,
on a windowsill. We try
to connect to food sources,
see magic before our eyes.
Nature’s forces form leaves, buds glow,

flourish into the next Spring;
we wait for a taste of summer,
crops sing as they grow, they grow.

In patterns plants reveal mysteries,
capillaries pump in life,
sinews stretch towards sun;
blackberries ripen on vines,
ducking heads in broad–leafed shade;
apple trees live side by side
with wheat crops nodding in fields
ready to feed us. The future is made.

We dash from work to home,
want new growth, new ways,
aware of struggles to feed families.
Earth still warms up by degrees
heats farms, factories. Food in forests
is what we need. Almonds, apricots,
cherries , let’s get them on our plates.
Farmers, governments unite with scientists.

Plants. They turn to us now.
Will we allow them room
to spread, to photosynthesise,
to arch upwards,
to rise like a cathedral roof
towards skies? Is there a plan
mapped out in their veins,
to reverse effects of climate change?

Something clever, seasonal, waterproof.
Plants are their own design, formed
in wind, by wavelengths red, blue, green,
into curly, upright, varied shapes
between canopies which absorb pollution.
They coexist with trees, multiply fruit,
cereals, vegetables, all we need.
At last, a peaceful revolution.

If you would like to see a recording of the poem it is available here

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