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Every Friday Portland-based poet Alicia Cohen will post an audio reading of a new poem from her series Reading Drawdown here on Radio Luftballett

What is Reading Drawdown?


A collection of 100 hundred poems, one poem for each solution proposed in Drawdown. The first poems of this series will be published serially at on Fridays through June 2018.

What is Drawdown?


A comprehensive plan to reverse global warming.

The result of ten years of work by researchers who have identified and modeled the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change. It is a path forward that can roll back global warming within thirty years.

Why Reading Drawdown? 

An Introduction by Alicia Cohen:


When I first heard of Project Drawdown from my friend and collaborator, the artist Margrethe Kolstad Brekke in Norway, I was deep in a depression due to the wildfire season in the American West where I was born and where I live. This summer, 2017, was unlike anything I have ever known. For three years running our summer skies periodically turn dark grey and the sun blood red as we are warned by the authorities to stay inside and avoid breathing deeply. I have never seen such skies before and this summer was the worst—it happened over and over and even into the fall. Global warming modeling shows the West's forests only burning with more frequency through this century. 

Global warming is wildly scary. It wakes me up at night, obsesses me during the day, makes me wonder if I should have had children. As a poet I have struggled for years inside this matrix of fear and sorrow. How can I respond? Global warming is an unprecedented crisis and there is no established poetic language to address its vast complexity. No language ready-made to write of this particular sorrow; my love for the earth as our ecosystems are being so stupidly and quickly lost; and about the solutions that are so clearly at our fingertips.

So perhaps my state of mind — and the pain in my lungs — last summer led me to experience Project Drawdown as a revelation. For the first time a rigorous, optimistic, and substantive response to our crisis. A map of the way forward and out of our downward spiral. A blueprint for action that doesn’t seek merely to minimize or slow the damage but shows how we can, within thirty years, reverse course and drawdown carbon out of our atmosphere back below 350ppm–the range within which all human evolution has occurred. All these one-hundred solutions are human scale, well tested, well understood, and already in use. They all, except for two (both already in use), promise to make life better for the plants, animals and humans on our beautiful planet earth.

Project Drawdown also presented a meaningful way to engage with global warming as a poet. It came in a flash. I would write 100 poems, one for each solution. The poems are pop songs. They are laments, elegies. They are love poems. They are meant to dig deep into the place in our brains where music moves us. They are meant to work alongside the Drawdown solutions as an activator works to stimulate a chemical process.

Margrethe and I hope to expand the project and encourage other poets and artists to take it up too. We imagine a tome of 100 x 100 Drawdown poems. We imagine artists making 10,000 Drawdown artworks. But most of all, we imagine, thirty years from now, living in a world whose ecosystems are not worse but more vibrant and vital, rich, and thriving than today.  


Alicia Cohen is a poet based in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of three books of poetry, Coherer (Verge Books), Debts and Obligations (O Books), and Bear (Handwritten Press). Her work is included in many anthologies, including Make It True: Poetry from Cascadia and Salt: Poetry on the Oregon Coast, as well as the forthcoming Earth Bound: Compass Points Toward an Ecopoetics and Counter-Desecration Phrasebook: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene, both from Wesleyan University Press. She has a doctorate from the Poetics Program at State University at New York, Buffalo and her work presently engaged in questions of feminism and housework, utopias, green building, and ecological disaster.

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