New poetry collection tackles climate emergency inspired by scientific expedition to Greenland

A poet from Manchester Writing School's new collection that explores the emotional and sensory impact of the changing landscape experienced by climate change scientists

By Aniqah Choudhri

Author and professor Helen Mort’s new collection written as part of research journey with Manchester Met climate scientists

Helen Mort in Greenland, 2016

A new poetry collection that explores the emotional and sensory impact of the changing landscape experienced by scientists investigating climate change has been written by a poet from Manchester Met’s Manchester Writing School.

The new poems by author Professor Helen Mort were penned during a special scientific expedition to Greenland alongside Manchester Met climate scientists.

Helen Mort, Professor of Creative Writing, has released her new poetry pamphlet for a special exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library until August 31.

Field Notes

The collection, titled Field Notes, was written by the poet as she joined Manchester Met climate change scientists Dr Kathryn Adamson and Dr LIestyn Barr, in September 2023. They travelled to Narsaq, Southern Greenland, to take samples and open dialogues with the local communities.

The limited-edition pamphlet was published and illustrated by Manchester School of Art student, Ysabel Hindrichs. The poems mirror the notes taken out on the field by scientists and illustrate the sensory and emotional impact of the changing landscape.

It was presented as part of the Manchester Festival of Libraries, which included a special talk at the University’s Poetry library from up-and-coming singer Antony Szmierek.

Prof Mort said: “There’s so much evidence of global warming and the severe consequences. Every time I’ve been to Greenland, it’s just scarily obvious. Anyone who has been hunting or fishing, they all say the same things.

“There’s a complex interchange between environment and economics that I found relatable to where I’m from. I’m from a mining town in North East Derbyshire and there were so many similarities and links that surprised me.”

Prof Mort added: “When I was helping the scientists in the lake, they were casting down to find something, but they don’t know until months later if what they’ve got is any good, or what it will reveal. Creativity is a little bit like that. You’re constantly casting down without really knowing what’s going to be brought up.

“The relationship between artists and scientists is vitally important. Learning from another discipline is a great way of challenging your entire way of thinking about something. I think we’re definitely stronger together and I love working that way.”

Field Notes will be released at the Landscapes of Change exhibition at the Manchester Poetry Library, which features films, the poems translated into several Greenlandic languages and multiple activities. The researchers will publish their findings at a later date.

The Landscapes of Change exhibition will run until 31st August at the Manchester Poetry Library.       

Manchester Met is celebrating its 200 year anniversary in 2024 and this month is looking at how creative excellence has been championed across two centuries – and continues to shape the industry today.