“Dear Matafele Peinem”

At the UN Climate Summit two weeks ago, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a native of the Marshall Islands, recited the poem “Dear Matafele Peinem” to 120 heads of state, bringing many to tears. The poem is a love letter to Jetnil-Kijiner’s daughter. The Marshall Islands are at the forefront of climate change, and, in the poem, Jetnil-Kijiner discusses the future her daughter will live in and the fight to keep their island above water. She beautifully weaves together her hopes and fears for her daughter and the magnitude of climate change and the fight against the corporate and government control of the fossil fuel companies. Her poem brought a breath of fresh air to an otherwise, arguably, unimpressive conference in which countries, especially large ones like the United States, did not commit to any meaningful action on climate change.


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