Professor John Holmes delivered a lecture on 'Poetry and Hope in a Time of Crisis' as part of the University of Birmingham's year-long Arts & Science programme.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought dramatic changes to all our lives. At the same time, we are facing a perfect storm of environmental crises, from climate change to pollution and the destruction of habitats and species. While scientific knowledge and innovations are essential in solving these problems, they are not sufficient on their own. We also need to be able to find hope in the face of loss and change, and to imagine different ways of living with nature and one another.
In this talk, John argues that, in this time of crisis, poetry can focus our minds on the things that really matter, helping us to work through grief and to find the imagination and the hope that will be needed to get us, individually and collectively, through to a better, more sustainable future.
His research focuses on the relationship between scientific ideas and cultural forms in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including poetry, architecture and the visual arts. More widely, he works on and teaches a wide range of nineteenth-century literature, with interests in poetry and poetic form, especially the sonnet and the epic; religious belief and doubt; and the history of sexuality.