One Chance Left

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In celebration of Exeter’s status as UNESCO City of Literature we have brought together a sequence of new poems written by scientists, health professionals and a poet from the University of Exeter and the Met Office. Powerful poetry connects disciplines, research, communities, and emotions in diverse and challenging ways; poetry provokes questions, motivates positive change, and reveals what is most valuable.​

This collaborative project highlights links between the climate crisis and human health. The poems connect a mix of voices from climate science and healthcare, using words to halt and heal a fast-escalating climate emergency. They testify to our team’s mission – to forge exciting collaborations using poetry to announce key environmental change and health messages. Read on to see how the poems have inspired a book, poetry trail, podcast and music to get the climate change message out there.

Through creative writing workshops with over 30 Met Office climate scientists and health professionals from the University of Exeter, led by our poet Dr Sally Flint, we have created 12 poems for 12 days of COP26 with the notion that ‘there is power by paying attention’. What makes ‘One Chance Left’ stand out is that the poems are written by those working on the front line of the climate crisis. It is a coming together of voices excavating climate change problems and searching for solutions in an emergency. Those who see first-hand and are acutely aware of the devastation being done to the planet are desperate to let others know the truth and the likely implications. We must join together to heal the world before it’s too late.

Read an extract and view issue contents below







The Persistent Soul

Wendy Brandmark

Profound things happen to me in department stores. Once, a woman of pale face and black encircled eyes came slowly down the escalator in Debenhams calling my name. Should I know you, I whispered. When she reached me she asked, ‘Not one gentlemen caller?’

Then I remembered. She had been my mother in The Glass Menagerie, both of us Americans in London, both Southerners, but she had acted here for years, while I was just getting started. She was old for the part then, and I hadn’t heard of her since. I thought she couldn’t still be alive. 

So I was only mildly disconcerted when a girl turned to me as I sampled goat cheeses in Selfridge’s food hall and asked if I knew the golden prayer. I shook my head and plucked another morsel from the array of pepper, rosemary and charcoal goat. She too was sampling, shutting her eyes when she chewed.

 I wondered at her words, whether it was my hair which drew her, newly coloured, even though I knew how ridiculous it was for a woman of my age to have burnished blonde hair.

Table of Contents

Foreword – Virginia Baily and Sally Flint 5 

Eruption – Robert Shearman 9 

Moon Over Black Ice – Bryan Costales 23 

Pearl Pitches a Fit – Mary O. Parker 33 

Doubtful Fires – David Bausor 37 

Cadillac – Rudy Koshar 55 

The Little Library – Eleanor Knight 59 

Muerte en Mexico – Nicholas Shadowen 71 

Letter From a Tortoise – Toby Litt 77 

You Must Change Your Life – Brandon French 81 

A Fool’s Reprieve – Mark Plummer 85 

Penny for Your Heart – Lynsey May 93 

Liana, Out of Context – Sarah Evans 97 

Ding Dong Dell – Jane Feaver 113 

Mount Famine – Aiden Clarkson 123 

The Secret Carer – Kathryn Paulsen 133 

Walking in the English Countryside – Charlie Hill 149 

Conrad and Eleanor (Novel Extract) – Jane Rogers 159 

And So It Is – Michael McGlade 165 

Contributors 179