Notes From a Biscuit Tin — Young Poets

Write a poem inspired by the work of Mary Midgley


This year Women In Parenthesis is celebrating the life of the Philosopher Mary Midgley, who would have been 100 this year. To commemorate her birth and her remarkable achievements as a philosopher. They will be publishing a special collection of poetry by young people in her name.

One of the aims of the project is to encourage more and different kinds of thinking. They are inviting young people, across the world, to create and send an illustrated poem. The poem can explore any aspect of Midgley’s work. The poem will be part of Poems From a Biscuit Tin.

Mary Midgley

Drawing of woman (Mary Midgley)
Mary Midgley (1919-2018) was a British moral philosopher whose work was about human animals and our place in the world. ‘We are not just rather like animals’, she wrote, ‘we are animals’. Midgley made major contributions to environmental philosophy, animal ethics and philosophy of science.

Mary’s last book, What is Philosophy For? was published a week before her 99th birthday. In it she warns that we are drifting toward environmental and mental catastrophe. We have been lulled to sleep by myths and stories that make us believe our future is out of our hands. They make us think that technology, Artificial Intelligence and biotechnology will save us the trouble of thinking and acting for ourselves.

Mary thinks philosophy needs to wake us up. But not the sort of dry, argumentative philosophy with which you might be familiar. Philosophers need to tell new stories and set out new visions and myths. We need philosophical stories that will remind us that ‘what happens next is up to us’. To create these stories, she says, philosophers will need the help of the poets.

What to do

Write a poem to help the philosophers. It might be about:

  • new technologies,
  • animals and humans,
  • myths and machines,
  • looking after the planet,
  • the future.

Take it further

To submit a poem, and have a chance to be included in the collection, please complete the following 4 steps.

  1. Write a poem inspired by Midgley’s philosophy. You might like to illustrate it.
  2. Take a photograph of your poem. Perhaps you would like to include your favourite biscuits in the photo!
  3. Upload your photo via this website. The closing date is April 2021.

As well as entering online feel free to share the poem via instagram or twitter account do so using #DreamBigAtHome @notesfromabiscuittin or #notesfromabiscuittin.

You might like to take a look at the introductions to Mary’s philosophy on Gaia and Philosophical Plumbing for inspiration.

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