The Booker Prize recipient Ben Okri has joined the campaign Letters to the Earth, a project which seeks to highlight climate degeneration. Launched in 2019, it invites citizens from around the world to pen letters addressed to “the earth,” sharing their views and opinions on issues of climate and ecological emergencies. A collection of selected letters were published in the US and the UK by HarperCollins, winning many awards including the Bronze Award, a New York Festival Radio Award, and the NB Magazine Non Fiction Book of the Month in November 2019.
Okri’s submission, which is a part-response to the pandemic, is featured in the new edition paperback which was released on February 18th, 2021. To further raise awareness, Okri held a performance of the piece, titled “The Age of Catastrophe” at the Shakespeare’s Globe in London, with his family. His wife, Charlotte Jarvis, a professional dancer, performed an interpretive dance, while their five year old daughter Mirabella Okri, read from her own letter.
Okri said the project was a “powerful cultural global awakening.” His poetry emphasized the pillaging of Mother Earth to the detriment of the climate, and decried the consequences for future generations, ending with a call for a more proactive stance worldwide.
Ben Okri has been a long-time advocate for conversations on climate change. In October, we announced the forthcoming release of his children’s book Every Leaf a Hallelujah, illustrated by the Nigerian-Italian illustrator Diana Ejaita, which engages pressing issues relating to the environment, through the eyes of a young girl on a precarious journey to find a life-saving plant for her ailing mother. It will be published in the US and the UK by Other Press and Apollo respectively.
Watch the video of the performance here: