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A spoken word artist from the Marshall Islands brings climate change alive in a poem to her daughter

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet from the Marshalll Islands. In “Dear Matafele Peinem” she promises her daughter she will protect her from climate change.

Dear Matafele Peinem is a poem by spoken word artist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands. Addressed to her daughter, it warns against climate change, detailing an apocalyptic scenario that, Jetnil-Kijiner promises, she will protect Matafele Peinem from. Fired with rage and sweetened by affection, Jetnil-Kijiner performed the piece at St. Pancras railway station in London in front a crowd moved by her harsh yet hopeful words.

 

Like other island states, the Marshall Islands are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea level rise and extreme weather events. Given the precarious future of her homeland, Jetnil-Kijiner is particularly sensitive to the tangible consequences of an unstable environment. Since performing the poem at the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 she has come to be known as a climate change poet. Jetnil-Kijiner‘s powerful words demonstrate that environmental activism in support of the signing of a strong climate deal at COP21 can and needs to be expressed in a myriad creative ways.

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