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Have feelings about climate change? Write about it, says Western prof

A creative writing professor at Western University is gathering submissions of climate change-inspired poetry, prose and artwork for an anthology she hopes will build community and spark action.

The deadline for submissions for climate change-inspired poetry and art is Feb. 16

Kathryn Mockler is a creative writing professor at Western University. (Travis Dolynny/CBC)

A creative writing professor at Western University is gathering submissions of climate change-inspired poetry, prose and artwork for an anthology she hopes will build community and spark action.

Watch Your Head is the brain child of Kathryn Mockler.

She came up with the idea, which was originally an online publication, after organizing a poetry reading during a climate change rally in Toronto that made her feel less alone.

"People do care about this, they're very concerned," she explained. "A lot of people don't know where to channel it or what to do, and they feel they don't have a voice … That's how I felt, anyway."

Mockler is working with a team of editors to compile an ongoing online publication, and says her project has caught the attention of an independent publisher in Toronto too.

Coach House Books plans to publish a print version of Watch Your Head in mid 2020.

How you can participate

Mockler said people don't need experience to make a submission. She hopes that unrepresented communities, including Indigenous people, people living with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community will contribute to the volunteer-driven project.

"We're not particularly interested in piece after piece of apocalyptic destruction and hopelessness," she added. "I think we also have to imagine a future where the government and industry do the right thing, even if it's naive."

The deadline for submissions is February 16.

The purpose of the anthology isn't to make individuals feel guilty for major system issues, said Mockler, adding that "we aren't going to recycle our way out of [climate change]."

She hopes the printed work will be a launch pad for conversations, panels and other events that will spark action.

"Facts don't seem to be doing it. We're in a place where people know the facts and they're just kind of going on with their lives. So if the facts aren't persuading government and industry, then I'm hoping maybe art will."

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