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#StillWeRise: Writing Climate (In)Justice

A program about the climate, art and activism with authors Alexis Wright (Australia), Leena Norms (UK) and Sanam Sheriff (US) as well as Benjamin Fro and Chihiro Geuzebroek, moderated by Fiep van Bodegom. In English.

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More and more authors are giving the climate and the climate crisis a prominent role in their work. Consider, for example, the recent novels of Eva Meijer, Margaret Atwood and Richard Powers. Few, however, dare to tackle the subject of climate inequality or climate racism.

All too often, you hear the expression, "we're all in the same boat". We are indeed all caught in the same rough seas of the climate crisis. However, social-economic status, skin colour and geographic location determine whether one weathers the storm aboard a luxury cruise ship or a leaky raft. Program producer Joëlle Koorneef believes that it's up to us to use all of our literary capabilities to put this issue on the agenda.

Aboriginal author Alexis Wright's novel The Swan Book (2013) takes place in a future world destroyed by extreme climate change. Due to drought, forest fires and dying coral reefs, Australia is a forerunner in terms of experiencing the effects of the climate crisis. In Wright's work, the continent is an almost dystopian literary setting in which injustices keep multiplying.

Fiep van Bodegom, a writer, translator and editor with the literary magazine De Gids, talked with Wright about the value of literature in the context of the climate crisis and the position of the writer to spur (climate) activism.

We provided fragments of Wright's work - distinguished by its raw and vital language - to spoken-word artists and poets to use the power of their words to make this subject tangible. Performing live at Theater aan het Spui, these included the rebellious and deeply engaged word, rap and music artist Benjamin Fro and the filmmaker, performer and activist Chihiro Geuzebroek. Impressive video contributions by British poet, YouTube star and literary video essayist Leena Norms and the India-born poet and word artist Sanam Sheriff rounded out the evening.

With Van Bodegom, they discussed how they shape their artistry as well as a desire for a more just world. Is it a balancing act, or is it the only way they can practise their art?

The Winternachten International Literature Festival signaled a new generation on the rise, which doesn't view art and activism as opposites, but operates fluidly between them. During the festival we helped give this movement a voice by launching a dedicated Facebook group on 7 January to encourage discussion and share sources of inspiration.

You can read the pieces commissioned for this program by the Winternachten International Literature Festival The Hague here:

(Find the Dutch-language versions here/Lees hier de Nederlandstalige versies)

More background:

Fiep van Bodegom
Onpeilbaar - Over natuur, land en eigendom, essay, 2020, Mister Motley

Benjamin Fro
YouTube Music

Chihiro Geuzebroek

Joëlle Koorneef

Leena Norms

Sanam Sheriff

Alexis Wright
Giramondo Publishing webpage with Wright's books and videos