Sean Enfield is a writer and educator from Dallas, Texas and recently received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. At UAF, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Permafrost Magazine, and now serves as an Assistant Non Fiction Editor at Terrain.org. His own work has been published in or is forthcoming from Hayden’s Ferry, Edible, Witness Magazine, Terrain.org, Tahoma Literary Review, and The Rumpus, among others, and he was the 2020 recipient of the Fourth Genre’s Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize. In 2013, his story, "Claudia Who Found the F," was featured on NPR's All Things Considered as a part of their 3 Minute Fiction contest judged by Karen Russell. His work can be found at seanenfield.com, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @seanseanclan.
This piece emerges from my own struggles with anxiety and from my thinking about poetry’s (and art, generally) function in a world that often feels apocalyptic. Anxiety, for me, is an internal affliction, but it is also manifested in my external reality. I wrote this piece in conversation with Rebecca Solnit’s book, A Paradise Built in Hell: the Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, which looks at local responses to tragic, disastrous events and how communities move forward or are hindered from moving forward by governing forces. Solnit’s essays inspired me to contend with the anxieties that come from living in a world that is constantly under the threat of climate change while still imagining a path forward. Poetry may not be able to solve the world’s problems, but it allows me—and others, I hope—to embrace the harsh realities of our present while still carving out a better future for ourselves, our kin, and our communities.