Photo of empty parking lot by Helen Cramer for Unsplash

Autoethnographic Poetry: After the End

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“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. https://doi.org/10.1177/1532708620965573


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

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