Actors including James Franco, Ruth Wilson, Gabriel Byrne, Maxine Peake, Jeremy Irons, Kelly Macdonald and Michael Sheen read a series of 21 poems on the theme of climate change, curated by UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Includes two bonus poems from Byrne and Franco
reads A Mancunian Taxi-driver Foresees His Death by Michael Symmons Roberts
On a radio show some self-help guru says
the earth will burn out in a hundred years
so treat each day as an eternity.
I am in a taxi when I hear this news,
airport-bound on the flyover
with my home town spread like a map below.
So my driver slams his foot to the floor,
and tells me that when the oil runs out
he will ship this cab to Arizona,
find the last fill-up on the planet,
drain the pump and power out into the wilderness
until the car coughs, then abandon it.
He will take from the dash this shot of his daughters,
his shark’s tooth on its chain,
then leave the radio with an audience
of skulls and vultures. I wind the window down
to catch my breath and ask what kind
of funeral is that? Then him: It’s just a made-up one.
He drops me by the long-haul sign
and I give him a tip well over the odds.
As I stand with my bags it begins to rain.
A man smiles down from a floodlit billboard
– well insured, invested, sound –
which leaves me feeling heartsore, undefended.
reads Doggerland by Jo Bell
The land bridge connecting Great Britain to mainland Europe during the last Ice Age was gradually flooded by rising sea levels around 6,500 BC. It was discovered in 1931 when a Norfolk trawler dredged up an unexpected artefact.
Out from Cromer in an easy sea, Pilgrim Lockwood
cast his nets and fetched up a harpoon.
Twelve thousand years had blunted not one barb.
An antler sharpened to a spike, a bony bread knife
from a time of glassy uplands and no bread:
Greetings from Doggerland, it said.
It’s cold. We answer ice with elk and mammoth, larks
and people like you. We are few. We hunt and eat and walk
and then move on, or fall. There are midges
but you can’t have everything. We fish or fowl;
we stalk carp-fat lagoons with ivory spears.
Our softened swamps are thick with eels. We sing.
Pilgrim felt his feet transparent on the deck, a sailor
treading uplands sixty fathoms back; saw nettled deer tracks
pooling, inch by sodden inch, into a whaler’s channel;
inlands islanded and highlands turned to shipping hazards,
fellsides lessened to a knuckled string; the sly brine
loosing peat from longbones, locking snails into the bedrock.
He turned for harbour, kissed the quoins of every house
and took to hillwalking. Time, he said, was water:
water, time. At neap tides he felt England’s backbone
shift and shiver; saw the caverns fill, the railways rivered
and the Pennine mackerel flashing through lead mines,
the last dove lifting from the summit of Lose Hill.