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Maggie Wang was co-editor-in-chief of the school literary magazine in Washington, D.C. where she grew up and now studies at the University of Oxford where she leads the Oxford University Poetry Society. She was a festival poet at this year’s Kendal Poetry Festival and is a Ledbury Poetry Critic.

April Egan was a commended Foyle Young Poet and first-prize winner of Gboyega Odubanjo’s People Need Nature challenge on Young Poets Network in 2020. April is also commended in the Poetry and Political Language Challenge,in partnership with the Orwell Youth Prize.

Matt Sowerby is a spoken word poet and activist, a member of Dove Cottage Young Poets, and a SLAMbassador. He has performed at The Poetry Society, the Houses of Parliament and Te d xDonc a s t e r. H i s one-man show Kidz Theez Dayz premiered at Greenbelt Festival in 2019.

Jayant Kashyap is aPushcartPrizenominee and author of the poetry pamphlets Survival (Clare Songbirds 2019) and Unaccomplished Cities (Ghost City Press 2020). Recently, he was shortlisted for the 2021 New Poets Prize.

Fiyinfoluwa Timothy Oladipo (Fiy) is a young BritishNigerian poet who has featured in several Young Poets Network events at The Poetry Society, wrote and judged a Young Poet s Network writing challenge on How-To Poetry in 2019, and was a commended Foyle Young Poet 2018. He is currently amedicalstudent studying in London.

Zaphael Lee (Zaph) is a 13-year-old spoken word poet, writer and artist based in Bournemouth. They started writing poetry from the age of 6 and have already been published in anthologies, taken part in, and won, several adult poetry slams, performed at The Poetry Café and been a guest poet at many UK festivals. Their work on climate change is featured on Young Poets Network.

What does the Anthropocene mean to you? Fiy: Admittedly, the word ‘Anthropocene’ has always been one that I've been acutely aware of without ever truly grasping. In many ways the concept of the Anthropocene feels like applying hindsight to what is essentially the present.

Maggie: The Anthropocene is, above all, terrifying. When has the Earth ever been so tightly controlled by such a small group of organisms? When has the Earth ever been subjected to such rapid and drastic change at all levels? The Anthropocene is a warning and more importantly a chance for us – humans – to put ourselves into perspective. What humanity has achieved is extraordinary and awe-inspiring, but also alarming. We have, more than any other species, acquired the ability to reshape the planet to our will. But, in doing so, we’ve unleashed forces beyond our control, and we’re increasingly helpless before our own ambitions. The Anthropocene is the manifestation of our urges, visions and ideals and also a reminder that most species are ephemeral on the scale of geologic time.

Jayant: Anthropocene is our time – the period in which we can quite simply destroy our Earth, as we are doing already; or we can decide to do otherwise. We have become the ones to shape how the Earth fares now, and in the future.

April: The Anthropocene is where the human impact on the environment has become non-reciprocal, and the ways in which this has changed humans’ interactions with the natural world and with each other.

Matt: To me, the Anthropocene represents a role reversal. As humans we have stopped moulding ourselves to our environment and started moulding our environment to ourselves. The etymology of ‘Anthropocene’ (anthrop – cene, ‘age of man’) suggests humans are now in control of everything, including the climate, but also misleadingly or ironically implies that we can control what the climate does to us in response. The contradictory nature of the concept is reflective of the unsustainability of our situation. The Anthropocene is self-destructive – a timebomb shaped like a planet.

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