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Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency

edited by Kate Simpson

Fifty contemporary poetic voices respond to the climate crisis.

A Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

50p from each sale will be donated to Friends of the Earth, the UK's largest grassroots environmental campaigning organisation, in celebration of their 50th anniversary.

“The definitive anthology for this decisive decade”
— Poetry Book Society

“The best eco-themed anthology to emerge this year ... dynamic, elegiac and hopeful”
— Rishi Dastidar, Guardian Books of the Year 2021

If you compressed the whole of Earth’s history into a single day, the first humans that look like us would appear at less than four seconds to midnight. In the last few seconds, we begin to burn fossil fuels at an alarming rate. The Anthropocene is an artificial geological epoch of our own design – one defined by emergency, with disastrous ecological effects rippling outwards across the entire globe. The illusions of civilisation, progress and choice are crumbling around us, and we are out of time. 

Out of Time is curated to include five key thematic sections – sequenced to take readers on a journey through various responses to climate emergency today. These sections include Emergency, Grief, Transformation, Work and Rewilding. The featured poems move through anger, confusion, violence and disarray – spheres of dystopia and decimation – to grief, desperation and lethargy, right through to modes of transformation, fable and utopia as well as rites of passage, activism and work. Finally, we land on tender (if fragile) moments of hope, where humans can be both included or excluded from the picture at will. This powerful, timely anthology engages with the power of poetry to ask questions, subvert expectations and raise reader awareness in 2021 – a year defined by responsibility, accountability and opportunity. 

Edited with an insightful introduction by Kate Simpson and featuring original work from the likes of Caroline Bird, Inua Ellams, Pascale Petit, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Rachael Allen, Raymond Antrobus and Mary Jean Chan, this collection of 50 poems is galvanising, offering compressed worlds, ecosystems and alternate realities – all ready to be opened up, expanded and explored.

“We are ‘Out of Time’. The World needs to change. Words have power. Power to change. Poetry from the Climate Emergency challenges, inspires, and empowers us to change our world.” Professor Mark Maslin, author of How to Save Our Planet: The Facts (Penguin, 2021)  

“With Out of Time, Kate Simpson has not only collected some of the most exciting voices in ecopoetry and brought them together in this extraordinary anthology, but she has written an essay which articulates the glorious activism burning through every line in these poems. Here you will find transcendent articulations of limitless miracles of nature and conversely damning records of humanity's greatest shame; the systematic and rapid destruction of our very life support system, planet earth. From the seas to the skies, from gutters to treetops these poems constitute a hugely important record of the most critical challenge faced by us all.” Sally Carruthers, Executive Director Poetry School, Director the Laurel and Ginkgo Prizes for Nature and Ecopoetry

Out of Time presents an excoriating critique of Earth's ongoing encounter with humankind – the language animal – in poems that charm, disrupt, convince, cohere and break apart. In such an ingeniously conceived and curated anthology, the range of forms and voices is impressive: from elegies and odes to fractured protest songs and poems that read like reports from the front. Romantic tropes about nature are dropped in favour of strange, startling images from the porous borders between human and non-human worlds. This is vital work for a future that is already here.” Tom Chivers, Cape Farewell's first Climate Poet-in-Residence

“There are so many exciting poems in this anthology that are inspiring and built on the good poetics of fightback: of the upbeat mood to make more of life, to be kind, to be outward-looking, and to be worthy of this home on our planet. A transformative read.” Daljit Nagra FRSL, Chair of the Royal Society of Literature


Edition: First

Date Published: 2021-07-08

ISBN: 9781912436613

Catalogue Number: VP0182

Number of Pages: 142

Cover art: data visualisation from climate scientist Ed Hawkins
Cover design: Kate Simpson, Jamie McGarry and Peter Barnfather

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