Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

The Lit x Climate Visuals: flash fiction and poetry competition

By Victoria Gimigliano on October 20, 2020

July 2018 - Sayung subdistrict, Demak, Central Java, Indonesia. Villagers pray for their family members at a flooded public cemetery due to rising sea levels. When alive, the residents live with the seawater, they are surrounded by it, even inside their homes. When they die they are buried in the land submerged by the rising sea.

In August 2020, The Literary Platform asked aspiring fiction writers and poets to submit their response to one of four photographs which they selected with the help of our Climate Visuals team – dive into the images and the fiction they inspired below.

Our team at Climate Visuals work with a range of photographers to document the changes, impacts and responses to climate change.  Our aim is to inspire visual communicators across the world, to move away from clichéd images of polar bears, melting ice caps and factories, to catalyse a new – more compelling and diverse – visual language for climate change.

Together, with The Lit, we selected four images from four different photographers, exploring a variety of regions and communities around the world, and their relationship with the changing climate.

The aim of the competition was to showcase some of the ways in which different disciplines and media cross-pollinate. We are therefore delighted to share the winning and shortlisted entries below.

The work of six winning writers – responding to each of the photographs through storytelling or poetry – was originally published in Issue 3 of The Lit.

Solmaz Daryani, from The Eyes of Earth (The Death of Lake Urmia), Iran

The Eyes of Earth (The Death of Lake Urmia), Iran
  • Lake Urmia – located in the northwest of Iran – was once the biggest salt lake in the Middle East.
  • Lake Urmia was once home to many birds, ducks, pelicans and flamingoes, as well as a popular destination for visitors.
  • During the past 20 years, climatic changes, intensive agriculture and dam construction have combined to transform the lake; approximately 80% of the lake has disappeared.
  • The Noah’s Ark was once the biggest pleasure boat on the lake.

Solmaz Daryani; Instagram: @solmazdaryani, Twitter: @SolmazDaryani

Greg Kahn, from 3 Millimeters, Maryland, USA

Vanishing forests, growing marsh, and ‘For Sale’ signs in front of homes. 3 Millimeters, Maryland, USA
  • The Eastern Shore of Maryland is a short drive from Washington D.C. Its position means it was one of the first landed shores for colonial settlers.
  • Sea levels here are rising twice as fast as the global average.
  • Gradient sea walls, vegetation re-nourishment and education are among the efforts seeking to preserve natural habitat and homes in some locations along the coast; in other places along Chesapeake Bay the rising sea levels are irreversible.
  • Property values have fallen sharply in the most vulnerable areas, some have retreated from homes as the marsh land expands.

Greg Kahn, Instagram: @gregkahn, Twitter: @GregKahn

Aji Styawan, from Drowning Land, Demak Regency, Indonesia

Villagers pray for their family members at a flooded public cemetery due to rising sea levels. When they die they are buried in the land submerged by the rising sea.
  • The Eastern Shore of Maryland is a short drive from Washington D.C. Its position means it was one of the first landed shores for colonial settlers.
  • Sea levels here are rising twice as fast as the global average.
  • Gradient sea walls, vegetation re-nourishment and education are among the efforts seeking to preserve natural habitat and homes in some locations along the coast; in other places along Chesapeake Bay the rising sea levels are irreversible.
  • Property values have fallen sharply in the most vulnerable areas, some have retreated from homes as the marsh land expands.

Aji Styawan Instagram: @ajistyawan, Twitter: @adjiestyawan

Sophie Gerrard, The Flows, Caithness and Sutherland, Scotland

Jake, conservation volunteer, working with RSPB Scotland in the Flow Country in the far north of Scotland. From the series 'The Flows'
Photo credit: Sophie Gerrard
  • Flow Country is a peatland in the far north of mainland Scotland. Peatlands, a rare and unique habitat across the globe, hold almost 30 per cent of all terrestrial carbon.
  • Scotland’s peatland is widely considered to be the largest expanse of blanket peat bog in the world and the principal terrestrial carbon store in the UK.
  • In the Flow Country, incentives to make productive use of the peatland led to extensive forestry which dried and degraded the ecosystem.
  • Canes are used to create dams that maintain water levels in the Flow Country, helping restore the natural habitat.

Sophie Gerrard Instagram: @sophiegerrard, Twitter: @sophiegerrard_

Winning poet

Michaela Moclair for Abrasion

Winning fiction writer

George Harrison for Holding Out

Shortlisted poets

Clare Dwyer for Flow Country

Keiran Potter for Stolen Sugar

Shortlisted fiction writers

Clare Elwell for Salt Lakes

Sinead Price for Captain of the Sea

By Victoria Gimigliano

Victoria works as the Climate Outreach Digital Communications Coordinator.  Previously, she has worked in marketing for both the private and public sector. In that time she gained a diploma in Digital Marketing from the Oxford College of Marketing. Her work has allowed her to work on campaigns promoting the reduction of carbon emissions within the automotive industry as well as working across multiple subject areas in academic publishing, including climate policy, at Taylor & Francis.  In her spare time, Victoria will be found on her family farm with her horses riding the Ridgeway.

Leave a reply

Sign up to our newsletter