Connecting Poetry to Conservation

This blog post was guest authored by World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council Member Adam Zhou from the Philippines.

Writing is to retrieve in language what could have been lost. I see writing as an incision in time, a splinter of the past that’s no longer tangible in the present. For instance, my works come from memories lodged in the back of my mind, many with an overarching theme of the previous wonders of the environment. From this, there unravels the strings of my conservation action. Of where I came from and who I can become. 

I have always found that stories and poems are more difficult to suppress than the mere voice. Many are far more engaged by a creative medium rather than the traditional methods of protests in the streets. At times, the shouts can appear monotonous, incessant, even sometimes vexing. In my outreach related to upcycling-related workshops in the Philippines, ranging from general education and leadership awareness to hands-on engagement with raw plastic materials, stories such as these (though sometimes much more rudimentary than the below work) can initiate a spark of interest. It’s never easy to find the right words in this age of heightened environmental disaster and resource exploitation. Nevertheless, I write in the hope of some changed perspective, wherever it may be.




today, we’ll see the cloak of death

removed from the ocean’s shoulders

but still wisps of black strands remain

hidden in every trough of the waves


choosing to take shape as

crumpled plastic bags soaked dark

with the gore of strangled sea turtles.

you can see this exhibit while crouching


over sand and shells that mingle with the grains

of broken wine glasses and candy wrappers.

they take sail into the deep waters, knowing

that this is the one landscape without an exit.


only rancor will settle here like a baby bird

and it will tell us to swim away. we swim

and we do it without stopping to picture

what might happen if we made another choice.


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