• Voicing Silence

Voicing Silence – a collective poem

Voicing Silence is an artistic response aiming to understand how the public feels about the 6th global mass extinction we are experiencing today. It questions how we ought to represent it, how to make sense of it and what new languages are need to express and address it.

Part of a wider project, Thinking Through Extinction, and working in partnership with Manchester Museum and University of Leeds, artist Laurence Payot and a team of artists are inviting you to collaborate and contribute to a video piece that will be presented online and at Manchester Museum late 2020/early 2021

Below is a collective poem created using the content gathered during online workshop session, with guest artist Scott Farlow.

Scan 68 2
……………………..

I have done more research 
and I thought oh my goodness 
eight million species were threatened

A third or even half of all animal and plant species facing imminent eradication
100 times the natural extinction rate
Due to human activities.
I am angry.
How are we evolving?
What will remain?

Two out of every 10 plants

414 insects
2 187 molluscs
732 crustaceans

237 corals
2 505 plant 
33 mushrooms
1 204 mammals
1 469 birds

50% in a single generation

Koalas

Polar bears

Monarch Butterflies

Brown algae

Beavers

The mountain lion
Marsupials

The spoon billed sandpiper
The Northern white rhino

Fireflies 

Sequoias

What if there is none left?
Not named. Not identified. Not known.

If something disappears
We cannot know it
Or touch it
Or see it
Or hear it.

Did it matter if I couldn’t speak their language?
If all I had was chloroplasts and membranes
Trapped within my own senses.

The wild is closing down. Summer sale.
When it’s gone it’s gone.
Trees are crying in forests near and far,
but who is listening?
Who cares?
I am a witness,
I care, yet I feel powerless to act alone.
Will you join me?

I feel … sad.
I feel anxious.
I am afraid.

I worry about my kids.

I feel like crying.

Not wanting to do stuff.

Really familiar insomnia.

Low moods.

Eco-anxiety.

A chest tightening
Hopelessness

Helplessness.
I want people to know it’s okay feeling sad.

But
We will not

There is no

We are to

They need to

It would be

For the future

Otherwise,
Humanity will have given up 

on human rights 

on animal rights 

on plants rights

on my rights.
Who’s future? – our future! (XR chants)

……………………..

When I was born in Iran, they planted the seed of a tree, a cherry tree.

So I start in one place. 

The place where my seed lands 

Becomes home for the rest of my life.

I find my way in the ground.

And the rain falls.

And I am slowly slowly struggling,
finding my way
reaching up.

I finally find the sun and,…

And I follow it.

And I grow
Into a BIG tree

Reaching out.

My roots are long.

I am this huge strong tree.

But then something goes wrong.

I keep growing

Growing!
GROWING!
More More More
More stuff – More power – More greed.
More control – More selfishness – More cravings.
Why do I need all that stuff?

Like ivy suffocating the oak tree that keeps it alive,
I am destroying my own home.

I feel stupid.

I have broken the chain.
The chain of trust.
No growth
No flourishing
No seasons
No scent
No dawn chorus
No native herds,
No diversity.
No life.

Gone. Thick, rich layers of vacant space.
Infinite and indefinite absence.
Just echoes and ghosts and faded marks.

I am extinct.
I feel disconnected.
I wonder if it’s permanent.
I dream of new life.
A moment of silence
Nothingness

An empty hand
Like an abandoned house.

How do you remember me?

The feeling of the bees landing on my petals
And tickling my anthers
The taste of my nectar,
The sun caressing my skin,
The morning dew,
The warm evening light.

How will we put me in a museum?
Precious – slippery, ungraspable,
My life and the life of the many generations before me.
The stories, the laughters…
A world in a world. Without voices.
Erased traces.
Fainting in your hands…

“Forget me not”, I cry.
Ne m’oubliez pas.

……………………..

I go outside -
enter the garden and
lie down on the grass.
Let the bees, the flies, the beetles
and even the spider 
step-walk-go all over me.

Hear me. Hear me. Hear me they say.
Stop and hear me stay.

Listen, listen now
to the quieter voices
the smaller chorus
in the sky
in the trees
in the forest
under the sea.
They are our lost 
last connections.
We have forgotten our togetherness,
our powerful unison.
We are searching for something we already have.

Tell me the secrets
Beyond our gaze.

We need to make wise choices, before all is lost,
Value should be about love, not cost,
Richness should be about diversity, not money,
Growth should be about flourishing, not domination.
Success should be about happiness, not power.

Mass extinction,
We cannot beat it alone,

Together we are holding the last seed of the Truffula tree.
It was kept in a bank, the bank of hope, the bank of life.
How will we nurture it,
water it,
care for it,
notice it,
learn to love it,
co-exist with it?

They put me in small pot, where I feel nice and safe,
But my roots feel tight.
I have lost my land… I say.

How I am to survive away from home…?

You keep me alive but I am not me.

I want my roots to stretch out, free.

My world keeps spinning, spinning.
I never saw you, beetles in my garden.
I never listened.

Who is to blame? Who are THEY, who are WE?
Are we and they the same and all?
Are we to blame?
Who is in charge? Who makes the decisions?
When we don’t need much to be happy,
When I am happier with less.
How do we make collective wise choices?
We need to make wise choices, before all is lost.

Perhaps extinction is an exchange
a re-building,
A re-wilding, a turning and a collective
Yearning for healing,
For agency,
For gratitude and hope.

Hold hands. Feel the sun. Live, live towards the light.

A cherry tree planted for me in my old home as I died.
And now, in my new home, thousands of miles away,
They planted a tree that grew and transformed with the saisons and it was a monument and a representative of change change change.
And people puts it flower in their hair in spring and ate its fruit in the autumn

……………………..

How many ways are there to say extinction?
Extinguish. Action. Depletion.
To out do something.
Aussterben.
Utserben.
Extinción.
Extinção.
Estinzione

εξαφάνιση
انقراض.

Baabi’inta.
灭绝.

It is not just a word.
It is more than numbers.
How do we make it clearer
When it happens without me noticing?