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Coping with Climate Anxiety Through Poetry, Visual Arts

An interdisciplinary poetry and visual arts workshop will take place this month aimed at inspiring campuswide awareness of global climate change and its impact now and in the future.

The MFA in Creative Writing program is partnering with NC State’s Sustainable Futures Initiative, University Libraries, and Global One Health Academy to host Art United Poetry and Art Workshop. Three acclaimed poets and artists will lead the free workshop’s two sessions for members of the NC State community.

Art United is an interdisciplinary, poetry-and-art workshop started by the MFA program in 2017. Originally funded by an OIED diversity mini-grant, the program has offered students, faculty and staff a welcoming, collaborative space to think and write about challenges facing the campus community. The first Art United was led by poets Tyree Daye and Leila Chatti and graphic memoirist Kristen Radtke.

“That first workshop started with the question, ‘What does it mean to feel at home?’” remembered Belle Boggs, professor of Creative Writing, who co-founded the program with former MFA program assistant director Shervon Cassim. “I think what makes Art United really special is the way that the workshop creates spaces to work collaboratively to make something new.” 

“The goal of 2024’s Art United is to bring together students and artists to help work through climate and eco-anxiety,” said Christopher Galik, a public administration professor and director of the Sustainable Futures Initiative. “The world is going through tremendous change right now and feelings of helplessness abound.

“Art United, and events like it, provide an opportunity for the entire campus community to use the arts and the humanities as an avenue of expression for how these challenges affect us, and in doing so take back some measure of agency and control.” 

Participants this year will work with artists Aaron Angello, Sommer Browning and Melissa Crowe on individual and collaborative poems, comics and zines. The workshop will be held on April 12, from 4 to 6 p.m., and on April 13, from 10 a.m. to noon, in the Fishbowl Forum at D.H. Hill Jr. Library. 

No previous poetry or art experience is required, and all materials will be provided

Art United also corresponds with the campus residency of Small Island, Big Song, a company of Indigenous artists from across the Pacific who speak to the existential threat of rising sea levels present to their homes. Workshop participants receive complimentary tickets to the company’s concert on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Stewart Theatre.

Events like Art United are part of a heightened NC State-emphasis on sustainability, both on and off campus.

“Sustainability is inherently a human endeavor,” Galik said. “The humanities and social sciences have an absolutely essential role in helping us make sense of the changes we are seeing in the world today, in documenting these changes, and expressing our collective response to these changes.”

To this end, the Sustainable Futures Initiative (SFI) was launched earlier this year with a mission to imagine and implement sustainable solutions for society.

“When it comes down to it, NC State is equivalent to the 24th largest city in the state of North Carolina,” Galik said. “We have all the trappings of a city, we live here, we work here, we generate power, we manage waste. We produce food, we manufacture. We move people and things from one place to another. From workshops and visioning exercises, to applied experiences and deployment of cutting-edge technologies, our literal backyard provides near-endless opportunities to create, to demonstrate, to show the world how we actually go from imagined idea to tangible reality.”

Students, faculty and staff can register for the workshop at     For more information, please reach out to Belle Boggs at 

This post was originally published in College of Humanities and Social Sciences.