This poem was created for MACFEST together with 60 young people, between 12 and 13 years of age in Year 8, from Burnage Boys High School and Levenshulme Girls High School in South Manchester, where there are many Muslim students.
MACFEST was celebrating five years of Muslim Arts and Culture in the Region and indeed Globally. Dance, drama, music and calligraphy and hand crafts have been shared and admired by participants from many different countries of origin who have chosen to make their homes in the North West.
Five years ago, we were beginning to understand the impact of Climate Change on our whole planet and to question the impact of our richer industrialised nations on those who still live in the Global South. Floods and droughts have been so shocking in the past five years.
Lydia Meryll from Manchester Environmental Education Network wrote a poem about the importance of planting trees and their creation of oxygen and cleaning up the air we breathe ‘We planted a tree’. Five years on, she asked advice from young people. How do they discuss the importance of Carbon reduction with their parents, so they can help to stop the surge of deadly Climate Crises and extreme weather.
This co-created poem indicates the importance of creative and positive practical discussions between generations…
An English Spring time (Climate Conversations with our children)
Well, where are we with the Planet now?
5 years on and where have we come to?
Springtime in Manchester…
The world is still warming, The weather shocks us when it can,
Wakes us up with wet and cold, Keeps us in with hot and dry
Families in Pakistan have suffered, and not just Balochistan
Sudden rains and fierce waters melt from glaciers up high
Mothers planting seedlings in the dry earth of Chibombo
Found their Zambian tree crop washed away
And Mums in Bedfordshire waded to school but found they couldn’t stay
They say half the schools in England are simply unprepared
And today we have an English Spring
New growth, sweet flowers we planted a year ago
New understandings, where we have come to?
Mothers are waking up to high food prices, turning down the thermostat
Fathers quake at the cost of diesel, shouting at the kitchen range
Children are asking questions, teachers say that Science is set.
How do we have these conversations? How do we deal with Climate Change?
Mothers speak to Mothers, Dadi, Da di-maa, what can we do?
Daughters speak to mothers, Mummy how can we come through?
“Its not our fault. There’s nothing we can do… “
“We could plant flowers!” “We could have my bike repaired!”
“Does not your Mother tongue not give you the answers to my questions?”
I’ll try to walk instead of driving, I’ll turn those lights off, save the bills”
“Where is the Science here for me, Daughter – in Urdu?”
“Let’s grow our OWN food here”, she says, “And save the soil”
My Mum speaks Turkish, She says “Plant more trees.
They make the air clean”. She wants us to “reduce the use”
My Mum speaks Punjabi. She knows not to waste – please
In Farsi, my Mum knows the dangers of factory smoke.
And here we are in Manchester
Springtime of the Industrial Revolution
Sweet flowers search for a passing insect
And now for the boys.. “Hi dad, can I talk to you? “
We talk of football, mechanics, money, movies, games and grades
I don’t know what my dad knows or doesn’t know …
“But what about the Climate Crisis Dad?”, I say – light fades.
“Why are you late home? I was worried. Take away? Don’t complain!”
Hey Dad, did you know we waste food mountains every day?
Do you know it makes methane?”
“Annoying!” says Dad, “Did you shower today? Have you done your homework?”
“But Dad, We’re wasting water, cutting forests, eating meat .. Running out..
“Stop!” says Dad, “finish your food.”
“But Dad, Why IS that island sinking under the ocean?”
“Its fake news!”, he says.. “Tell us what’s good”
“Well Dad, I’ve written this poem:
The vast ocean coated in trash,
So many creatures coated in ash.
The vast earth is about to collapse.
Glaciers decrease in height…
Is this right?
We began the world with gladness
Now what we are doing is madness..
Can we really BE so careless?
Patience, we can make it happen: windmills, tide and solar panels
We’ll scoot to school, We will have some fun.
We’ll check the Science, make insulation models.
We’ll grow more flowers, make electricity from the sun
We will water saplings. Build our own soil
We’ll tend the bean plants as they grow, plant coriander, grow our own
Mum says, “Stop burning oil”. Dad says, “That’s far too far.
Find me an affordable electric car!”
So here we are in an English Spring. 5 years on..
New growth, these children want a voice ….
They’ve understandings we can share. Take them with us.
There IS choice.
Thank you to all the Year 8 contributors from Burnage Boys High School and Levenshulme Girls High School.