Friday Poem – ‘What We Found in the Arctic, or, the Geopolitics of New Natural Resources Uncovered by Melted Ice’ by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘What We Found in the Arctic, or, the Geopolitics of New Natural Resources Uncovered by Melted Ice’ by Carolyn Jess-Cooke from her new collection We Have To Leave The Earth.

This cover shows a photo of a ball of tangled fishing twine resting against a pink and blue background.

Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s new poetry collection is both keenly political and deeply personal. The opening poem ‘now’ features a seemingly peaceful domestic scene of a family lounging at home as the starting point for meditation on history, time, mortality and the fate of the planet. There are hints of a struggle with depression stemming from a difficult childhood. There is a cherished child diagnosed with autism. There are two sequences: Songs for the Arctic, inspired by field work done for the Arctic at the Thought Foundation, poems that are vividly descriptive of an extreme landscape, aware of the fraught history of exploration and sensitive to the way changes in the pack ice are the most significant indicators of man-made global warming. The other sequence, The House of Rest, is a history in nine poems of Josephine Butler (1828-1906), who pioneered feminist activism, and helped to repeal the Contagious Diseases Act 1869, which facilitated sexual violence in the name of disease prevention. Jess-Cooke is unafraid of dark material but is also ultimately hopeful and full of creative strategies to meet challenging times. 

What We Found in the Arctic, or, the Geopolitics of New Natural Resources Uncovered by Melted Ice
Mme and M. Dumoulin, missing since 1942
Rubber ducks
A Russian flag pronged on the seafloor
Three Incan children, sacrificed
Bird fossils from the Cretaceous period
Prehistoric skis
Saami, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk, Chukchi, Aleut, Yupik, Dolgan, and Inuit
Natural Gas
1700 species of plants
Record levels of microplastics
A hunter from 3000 B.C.
A horse from the Iron Age, with perfectly preserved manure
Territorial claims for the Arctic Continental Shelf
Polar bears, starving
Disputations concerning territorial waters
45,000 Russian troops
3,400 Russian military vehicles
41 Russian ships
15 Russian submarines
110 Russian planes
The albedo effect, claimed by no one

We Have To Leave The Earth is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Join us online for the virtual launch of We Have To Leave The Earth on Tuesday 16th November from 7pm. Carolyn will be reading from the collection alongside guest readers Liz Berry and Jen Hadfield. Register for free via Eventbrite here

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