The Grinning Green Gadfly

We are in a modern era with websites like exhort us to insure our lives to the max. You might expect so-called eco-warriors to be bull-horn wielding bullies who crash and stamp around with their agendas gouged into their boot heels, but there is another kind as well. A kinder, gentler, fluffier brand of tree-hugging gadfly who smiles as he scolds and rhymes as he teaches. His name is Danny Chivers and he's a self-proclaimed eco-geek who besides being a teacher, a freelance writer, a social commentator, an analyst and an activist is a performance poet who thinks of himself as a "cheerful mischief-maker."

From Oxford, England, young Chivers began his foray into performance poetry in 2006 upon achieving his second masters degree and by 2007 became that town's unlikely Hammer & Tongue Slam Poetry Champion. His poems use wit and simple rhymes schemes to point out the folly of modern energy use and rampant resource consumption tackling such topics as global warming, nuclear power, coal, and consumerism run amok. His delivery is upbeat, fast-paced and even quite silly at times, but this surface treacle hides biting sarcasm and hard-hitting social commentary the likes of which would make Dr. Suess himself proud (remember the cute little Lorax and his poor little forest?).

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Danny recites his clever green propaganda whenever and wherever he can be it for a festival, a benefit, a youth club, an award ceremony for the Borough Council, a police riot or even a comedy show. He publishes a blog, makes videos of his performances to post online, broadcasts on the radio, publishes on poetry sites and in anthologies. Radio Foreplay calls him a “half master of witty banter, half eerily reasonable prophet of environmental Armageddon.”

One of his pieces entitled “A Modest Proposal” (a title borrowed from another activist from a different era, Jonathan Swift, who used sarcasm to tackle overpopulation and starvation together by suggesting the poor sell their babies to the rich for food) addresses the foolishness of using nuclear power to combat global warming, which he humorously likens to using acid to burn off minor skin rashes.

So just because he's a happy little rhyming eco-imp doesn't mean he doesn't have a point of view or a brain (earning advanced environmental degrees from the universities of Manchester, Middlesex and Oxford are no small feats) and perhaps in this era of doom and gloom it's finally time to listen to someone who can make you think all the way down to your smile.

Copyright Dave Baxter 2008