#MPF17 Wrap-Up: “Solarpunk Serenades” workshop

The second workshop I led for MassPoetry Festival 2017 was “Solarpunk Serenades,” which was an introduction to the world of eco-conscious, optimistic, near-future science fiction that is now termed solarpunk.  Arguably, there are moments in poetry, publishing, and popular culture which have fit this bill in the last hundred years at least, but now it has a name, and an opportunity to make its mark in sci-fi literature, aesthetics, design, and imagination the same way cyberpunk or steampunk have.

The slides below contain links to and names of most of the resources I mentioned in my presentation, for both the context and history of solarpunk, and places to find inspiration to write your own. There are also three themed writing prompts with visual cues.  You can find most of those visuals and links to their originals on my Pinterest board. It was fabulous to see such a packed room of optimistic geeky poets, and I was really impressed with the breadth of imagination and vivid imagery that people who chose to share their poem drafts demonstrated. Thanks for inspiring me in return, poetpunks!

You can also download the handout from this workshop, with examples of poems both new and classic that use some solarpunk ideas and ideals here: SolarpunkSerenades workshop handout.

5 thoughts on “#MPF17 Wrap-Up: “Solarpunk Serenades” workshop

  1. This was a wonderful workshop, the most inspiring workshop I’ve ever been to. I’m the one who wrote the poem about being at home on Titan for the group. I’ve completed 3 poems in your workshop, and I’d like to send them to you. I absentmindedly forgot to pick up your card, so could yous end me your email address, or can I upload the poems as a response to your blog? My series of novels, The Light of Titan, shares the mostly optimistic solarpunk ideals you shared in your workshop. Your workshop is a great inspiration.


  2. Hi Tom, glad to hear that you got so much out of the workshop! If you’re fine with your poem drafts/poem snippets visible to the public, you’re welcome to add them here in the comments. If you’d prefer to send them to me privately, let me know.


  3. Here are the 3 poems I wrote from the Solarpunk Serenades workshop. All 3 are written in the persona of the main character of The Light of Titan series, an artist named Justine.

    To Touch an Alien Sea

    Can I put my hand in Titan’s ethane sea and not lose it?
    I know someone who did that, stuck her hand in,
    Felt only cold, or did she feel more?

    Am I brave enough? Just to reach out, put my
    Hand in, feel the current of an alien sea, and
    Not lose my hand, not have my hand turn to glass and shatter?

    She did that, told me it just felt cold, that’s all,
    She wore her protective glove after all,
    But she is no poet –

    So I need to take a walk out there, to the seashore,
    Trust that my hand will be protected –

    Will I touch a creature that lives there?
    A creature that could be, due to its slow – to us – frozen metabolism,
    So ancient, it could have been young
    When the first dinosaurs appeared on our hot, fast Earth –
    I need to do this, what she did, reach out,
    To touch what lived millions of ages
    Before humans were a dream in Earth’s eye –

    Through my touch, will this being reach me?
    Can I feel what it feels, see as it sees?
    How is it to survive in this sea of
    A world so not like ours?

    At Home on Titan

    I live in a house built like a tree.
    Outside, the sky hangs low, or seems to hang low,
    An orange smog that blocks sun, stars,
    A faint shape, like the imprint in the side of the eye,
    Is all that I see of this world’s parent.

    Yet inside, when I walk through the door we made,
    I enter a forest – trees, vines climb the walls, and our make believe
    Warm sun shines in an Earth clear sky.

    It is Earth rebuilt on this quiet, seemingly dead world,
    But I’m home under our dome, and out there is smog,
    Death to our kind, a freezing desert of
    Sand dunes larger than the massed, piled up cities of Earth.

    What lives out there?
    No oxygen, and to us a deadly mix of nitrogen, methane,
    Other hydrocarbons,
    And we can see nothing but murk,
    And when it rains, the methane falls in giant drops
    That would strip our skin away
    If we stepped out unprotected.
    What can live out there?
    Is the notion of life out there, in that wilderness of sand and smog,
    An illusion, a dream of a frenzied brain?

    Inside it is so Earth, an Earth never polluted,
    An Earth in its healthy dawn;

    Maybe we needed to go out, to truly come here,
    To bring our world whole,
    A union of what brought us forth, into future ages

    The Voice of Crystal Sand

    How does the wind, the slow wind sound on Titan?
    What voice rises from the wind blowing across the crystal sand dunes
    That travel around this world?

    Can I capture that sound? Compose music combining that sound with ours?
    The wind rattling through the clouds high above in the murk?
    I am no composer, but someone may be –

    Is this a living sound? Can we hear the sounds, add the music of
    These alien beings older than our species, to ours?

    What will it be? The first movement of the
    First true Solar System Symphony?

    Or is it just an illusion?

    Do these species have music, sounds of nature enhanced into beauty,
    Like the sounds of whales added to our songs?

    Maybe they hear our music, have combined our infantile sounds to theirs.
    Is that so? Can we join in harmony with them?

    Or is that just fancy, the sounds of Titan
    Nothing more than the echoes of lifeless crystal sand?

    Tom Howard

    This workshop was a great inspiration.


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