How much of art should reflect on and comment on real life?
Some art is viewed as a form of escapism, others more of a reality distortion. While we remain coiled up in such debates of what art “is,” there is a climate crisis and that is our reality.
Chicanx poet Anthony Cody does what other marginalized community members do. When not given the luxury to access art or ignore the issues inflicting your identity and community, you write about them. To tell the story of his own experience and universalize issues that are ongoing yet remain ignored by society at large. Climate change is one of those pressing issues that continues to be adamantly pushed to the sidelines of art and coverage.
There could be a million pleads and tangible proof of a climate crisis happening yet the numbers are ignored and the status quo remains. At that point creating art becomes obsolete. But Cody found a way to merge these two things together, something that Indigenous, Black and brown artists have been doing for centuries, creating art activism.
In “The Rendering,” Cody relays the history of the Dust Bowl, its settler colonial roots and the impacts it left contributing to the current crisis and cultural devastation. It puts at the forefront identity and its relation to climate change.
Poetry, and writing in all forms can exist as a form of activism, as a tool to inform and place identities at the forefront of spaces that have been historically exclusive; places like the Festival of Books and USC. Storytelling can be the key to empowering increased representation and justice. This is why Cody’s reading of “The Rendering” is so crucial to the understanding of and reflection on the climate crisis we have here, in our own community.
Cody’s reading will be on Saturday, April 22 on the Poetry Stage at 4:40 p.m. Earlier that day at 12:30 p.m., Cody will be a participant of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Poetry Finalist Roundtable on the same stage.