Photo of empty parking lot by Helen Cramer for Unsplash
Click me to view more from the Special Issue 2022: Climate Change

“I have become helpless with the thought that writing cannot save anyone.”

(Yoo, 2021, p. 194)

They find words

among the rusty cans

in an abandoned parking lot

They mix them with the sand

with yesterday’s leftovers



faded photographs

which refer to nothing

scattered signs

which for a moment give the illusion of satiety

gnashing between teeth

and have a sour aftertaste

Znajdują słowa

wśród zardzewiałych puszek

na opuszczonym parkingu

mieszają je z piaskiem

wczorajszymi resztkami



wyblakłych zdjęć

które do niczego nie odnoszą

rozsypane znaki

na chwilę dające złudzenie sytości

zgrzytają między zębami

i mają kwaśny posmak


Yoo, J. (2021). Writing as inquiry during a pandemic. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies21(2), 194–197.


This autoethnographic poem is a question about the power of autoethnography in the face of the climate crisis. It is an expression of my dark fears, my depression that keeps me away from writing. A climate crisis asks about the meaning of writing. How can we by writing – autoethnography – stop the coming change? To what extent can we transform the apocalypse into the utopia that is (non)coming? How useful will our writing be after the apocalypse? To what extent will our fears, desires, and hopes be understandable to people who survive the crisis?

The autoethnographic poem is written in English and Polish to counteract the hegemony of the English language and to minimize the loss of meaning in translation. More from the author:

Chutorański, M. & Szwabowski, O. (in press). From the semi-periphery with love. A dream of democratic social science: a margins lever. Journal of Studies in International Education, DOI:10.1177/10283153211070109

Featured image by Helen Cramer on Unsplash

Click me to view more from the Special Issue 2022: Climate Change

About Author

Oskar Szwabowski was born on 18.05.1981 in Szczecin, Poland. He is a social anarchist, autoethnographer, and writer with a small body of work. He pursued Philosophy, Ph.D. and Habilitation in Pedagogy at the University of Szczecin. He is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Educational Studies, University of Szczecin. He is interested in critical education, philosophy of education, andragogy, and popular culture. He published a few autoethnographic articles in, for example, Qualitative Inquiry, Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, Research in Education, Journal of Autoethnography, Parezja, Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Policy Futures in Education. He is the author of two books: Uniwersytet-Fabryka-Maszyna Uniwersytet w perspektywie radykalnej [University-Factory-Machine. A university in radical perspective], Warszawa, Książka i Prasa, 2014 and Nekrofilna produkacja akademicka i pieśni partyzantów. Autoetnografia pracy akademickiej i dydaktycznej w czasach zombie-kapitalizmu [A necrophilic academic production and partisan songs. An autoethnography of academic and teaching work under zombie-capitalism], Wrocław, Wydawnictwo Instytutu Pedagogiki Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2019 (open access). He is co-editor of several books. He also writes poetry and short stories. The last one (in print) is a poetry book: ARMACADEMIX, Gdańsk, Oficynka. He lives in Szczecin, Poland, with his wife, two dogs, and four cats.

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