The title for my poetry collection, Moving to Climate Change Hours, was suggested by my wonderful publisher Noelle Allen of Wolsak and Wynn. It’s a modification of one of the poem titles in the book, Today We Move to Climate Change Hours. Noelle suggested it as an alternative to my admittedly much weaker suggestions and I immediately realized it was perfect. I had a discussion with my friend Linda on why it made sense to use this instead of the actual title of the poem it comes from, which also I think could have been a good but not as good title. I said I liked Noelle’s better for the book because of the ongoingness of the word moving. And also how that relates to the idea of climate, not only evoking the climate catastrophe, but also how it also relates to the poet speaker’s own internal climate which is changing through the book. I said I loved how “Moving” worked in those contexts.
So in this little essay I’m interested in moving or move in both the motion type sense as well as the internal world. When researching ahead of the video on the etymology of the word move it was interesting to discover “move’ showed up in the 1300 and 1400’s in Middle English with it’s motion type meaning but over that time also came to have the emotional meaning like “I found that very moving”. So early on the word was understood for it’s physical meaning as well as an internal world movement too.
I’ve been thinking about how for almost a year most of us have been in place. Not moving nearly as much as proven by the reports from our cellphones. I’ve been mostly in my apartment, other the daily walks or bike rides, for close to a year. Much less physical movement and the lack of physical social interaction and also a lack of some other type movements. On the other hand the online world has meant the abiltity to move across the planet instantly, I’ve seen Zoom readings in California, England and other places. So this online world has allows a different kind of movement.
And there has been the internal movements as we’ve gotten more or less used to this paradigm shift. I think in many ways the lack of physical change in location has meant more time for thinking about that internal world. Of course that is what we as poets do. Sit still, observe the outer world and the inner world, searching for ways to express both.
William Carlos Williams collection Spring and All was produced around the time of the Spanish flu and as you know he was a medical doctor so obviously deeply affected by that pandemic that killed the young as well as the old. The opening poem of the book, poem I also known as Spring and All, starts with “By the road to the contagious hospital” which is similar to the road we found ourselves on a year or so ago. Much of the poem is taken up with dark and bleak imagery. But Williams ends this poem with these lines:
But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken
Perhaps that is what has come out of this pandemic rooting we’ve had to do, another kind of movement begun as we’ve gripped down. Certainly as artists that is something we can explore in our work coming out of this. This video work I like to think is that type of work. I’m not sure without this limited external movement that I would have been able to focus as much as has been required.
This video essay on the word Move is a prelude to the first poem in the collection, First Day, which was a work poem which begins with a tragic death in an oil refinery and explores my world at the time. This video does not speak to that directly but I think is still in conversation with that work. The video essay evokes the past, the constant movement of traffic that is observed and I think shows the physical wandering of the subject as well as the internal wandering.
Hope you enjoy it.