Review: Margate Bookie and the topic of Writing the Climate Crisis

PANEL: Jessica Taggart Rose, Georgina Wilson-Powell, Maggie Harris and Rosa Rankin-Gee (Photo Margate Bookie)

By James Bonthron

The Margate Bookie festival kicked off on Thursday 19 October with “Writing the Climate Crisis” at The Margate School.

The event, which had a panel filled to bursting with literary talent, was my first foray into the world of Margate Bookie and I was pleased to attend the opening event.

I arrived in the foyer of The Margate School at 5.30pm, by which point it was already brimming with excitement. In contrast to the crisp October air, the room was thick with the idle chit chat of aspiring artists and writers.

The room of the event was perhaps a little snug for circa 40 people, but its fairly plush interior helped to set the tone.

What I enjoyed most was the diversity of perspectives- all the authors came at the problem from different angles.

The panel was made up of Rosa Rankin-Gee, award winning author of two novels (one set in a near-future, dystopic Margate), multi-award winning Guyanese/British writer Maggie Harris and sustainability veteran Georgina Wilson-Powell.

Not to be outdone, host Jessica Taggart Rose is also an established writer, having been published in a range of magazines as well as being a founding member of Poets for the Planet.

So, what in particular was discussed?

Dreamland by Ramsgate author Rosa Rankin-Gee

Rosa spoke much about her book “Dreamland”, a delight for devourers of dystopic teen novels. Part of the appeal, of course, is just how easily the topic could be related to event-goers.

In particular, Rosa spoke about why she chose Margate as the setting. She suggested Margate is a town of extremes- it’s known for its rides and coast and holidaymaking, but it’s also known for its poverty and has a coastline that may well be underwater in the near future.

As well as the rest of the panel, Rosa suggested that it’s impossible to not talk about climate change in contemporary writing given the scale and prevalence of it. Rosa was one of the more politically-minded of the panel, which was on-theme with her Margate-based book.

 

Maggie, the poet of the panel, spoke about Guyana and its environmental heritage and problems. She pointed out  Guyana has one of the last pristine rainforests in the world, which is under increasing threat from the recent discovery of oil there.

One particular point she made was about how life in Guyana has changed over time, especially over environmental awareness. She suggested that her education was all about going to church, with very little time for environmental learning.

Georgina Wilson-Powell said  her work was all about creating something fun but impactful. She suggested that non-fiction can be a really useful tool to ground people and help them to find some sense in an age of dis- and misinformation. She emphasised that people need to do more if they can.

One specific underlying theme was the importance of hope and importance of calling people to action.

If the opening night was an indication of the rest of the literature festival, then attendees will be enjoying a thought-provoking and interesting time.

James Bonthron lives in Ramsgate. he has studied Wildlife Conservation with a year in journalism degree at the University of Kent. During his time at university, he has been spreading the word about environmental issues and trying to inform people about what’s going on locally.

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19 Comments

  1. Hardly a “diversity of perspectives” if they all believe there is a so-called ‘Climate Crisis’. Whatever, next “diverse opinions” on opposing The Tories?

    • There is, without a shadow of a doubt, a climate crisis.
      It doesn’t suit some people’s agenda to acknowledge that the climate change we are experiencing is man-made. But the stark reality is that that is what is happening.
      There is overwhelming evidence that climate change is anthropogenic; nothing to say otherwise.

      • Not even all scientists agree. So choosing four writers to talk about it is clearly only the left wing version of “diverse” – in other words, all are welcome, as long as you agree… or perhaps it’s telling that these are all FICTION writers?

        Perhaps they should’ve invited some Birchington pensioners? At least half I speak to think it’s bollox.

  2. Really, on a day when there has been a 3 day storm, with widespread flooding,6 deaths, and a North sea drilling rig in difficulties and all you can do is bang on about Birchington and it’s pensioners.So tell me pinkie, what perspective will they bring apart from ‘fings ain’t what they used to be ‘.l think we know that they think, they believe that the 21st century was a bad idea.
    No reputable scientists think that climate change does not exist.If David Attenborough thinks it exists, it exists.
    You would be better off not plastering all that boswellox on your head, it’s rotting your little grey cells.

    • Hey there, Georgie Boy… in 1287, there was a storm so bad, it changed the course of the river Rother, and totally washing away Winchelsea (the current medievel town was rebuilt in a different place). Like now, it was bad weather, only much, much worse than the heavy rain of the past few days. They probably blamed God or Satan or something, but of course that was before the new religion called ‘Climate Change’, where non-believers are condemned as idiots or worse.

      • True, there has been “bad” weather events over the centuries.
        What there hasn’t been is so many “bad” weather events, world wide, one after another. Whether it’s record temperatures being broken, right across the globe, or storms, or drought. Never in the annals of human history have so many “bad” events occurred, all over the Earth. Records are tumbling left right and centre.
        Something else that’s never happened is the profligate burning of fossil fuels; not until the Industrial Revolution, since when humans have and continue to burn more and more hydrocarbon fuels, and, correspondingly, the global air temperature rises and rises.
        And, contrary to your assertion that it is “non believers” who are maligned, it is those who try to bring enlightenment who are the target of abuse. Look at the vilification of (for example) Greta Thunberg.

        • I must confess, I do try to follow David Attenborough’s excellent example – by flying to as many countries as I can.

          As for the lovely Greta, how did she get to London recently, by glider or rowing boat? No, she’s another hypocrite (all she needed was Emma Thompson to jet in 1st class from L.A. to tell us again not to burn fossil fuels).

          At least I’m honest. I don’t believe it, but even if I’m wrong, I DON’T CARE! I have no offspring, so stuff the rest of you.

  3. Surely it’s clear that this event,”Writing the Climate Crisis” was going to be based on the different ways in which the participating authors in particular,and possibly other authors who were not speaking at this event, wrote about climate change in their rents works.

    • They must believe in “Climate Change” to include it… unless it was treated like wizards, goblins and angels? I actually never thought of that.

    • As always, they concentrate solely on the negatives. Why not “Lower heating bills, extension of staycation period, and less likelyhood of crops failing because of drought”?

    • A useful and informative piece.
      I particularly noticed this bit:

      “The world’s hottest year on record so far was 2016, coinciding with a strong El Niño – although climate change has fuelled extreme temperatures even in years without the phenomenon.

      The last eight years were the world’s eight hottest on record – reflecting the longer-term warming trend driven by greenhouse gas emissions.”

      The final sentence is particularly apposite.

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