Image credit: © Tom Chivers

26 October 2012

ADRIFT: Cape Farewell’s climate poet residency

Cape Farewell, the international not-for-profit climate change programme set up by artist and photographer David Buckland in 2001, has chosen the poet Tom Chivers as its first poet in residence. ADRIFT is the first in Cape Farewell’s new series of annual poetry commissions. The London-based poet will explore the theme ‘climate is culture’ producing a series of mixed-media works, live performance, discussion and collaborations with other artists, writers and poets. The residency will culminate in late spring 2013 with a major new work.

Tom will be exploring the history of London’s geology and landscape – combining artist-led research into climate issues with a poetic response. He will be mapping the natural territories written into our urban spaces – the peat-bog underneath Elephant and Castle, Battersea’s tidal loop, and London’s forgotten waterways, the Walbrook, Effra and Fleet. Particularly interested in the idea of urban pilgrimage and the French tradition of dérive (to ‘drift’ unplanned through a landscape directed soley by the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography), Tom will address how the urban landscape effects the emotions and goes beyond the ocular.

During his residency Tom will present his findings through readings, publications, performances and collaborations with other artists. Under the Cape Farewell rubric of ‘expedition’ he will work towards a major exploratory art project in spring 2013. Tom will be blogging about the project at

Cape Farewell founder, artist and photographer David Buckland said:
“Climate change is about culture, our values as a society, our economies and our consuming lifestyles. Cape Farewell is committed to the notion that artists can engage the public in this issue, through creative insight and vision. Our programme is about challenging, provoking and inspiring audiences to think differently about the natural systems we inhabit. The launch of ADRIFT marks an exciting moment in the Cape Farewell story – and in working with Tom Chivers as our first poet resident we will become passengers as he embarks on his own expedition to unravel the geology, historical landscapes and hidden territories of London.”

Poems written as part of the commission so far:
Burial, or The Biodegradable Coffin Poem
Neckinger Mouth

Born in South London in 1983, Tom Chivers is a poet and arts producer. His books include How to Build a City (Salt, 2009), The Terrors (Nine Arches, 2009) and several anthologies including Adventures in Form (2012, and one of The Independent’s ’50 Best Summer Reads’). In 2008 he was Poet in Residence at the Bishopsgate Institute, and in 2009 he presented a documentary about the poet Barry MacSweeney for BBC Radio 4. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011. Tom is Director of independent publisher and arts producer Penned in the Margins. From 2008 to 2011 he was co-Director of London Word Festival, for which he commissioned and produced a wide range of productions and events, receiving a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award for his work.

Cape Farewell works in partnership with scientific and cultural institutions to deliver an innovative programme of public engagement – challenging audiences to think differently about climate change and the natural systems we inhabit. Leading expeditions, both intercontinental and psychogeographic, the organization interrogates the scientific, social and economic realities that lead to climate disruption. The organisation has worked with over 140 world-renowned artists, including Rachel Whiteread, Jarvis Cocker, Ian McEwan, Yann Martel, Sophie Calle, Marcus Brigstocke and Antony Gormley which has resulted in the creation of a broad range of climate focused art. More information can be found by visiting