On 23 September 2014, I addressed the Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. I performed my new poem entitled “Dear Matafele Peinem” written to my daughter. My full statement, along with a live performance of the poem, can be viewed below, followed by the studio version, and the full text of the poem itself:
The clip below is a studio version which was recorded before the actual performance.
dear matafele peinam,
you are a seven month old sunrise of gummy smiles
you are bald as an egg and bald as the buddha
you are thighs that are thunder and shrieks that are lightning
so excited for bananas, hugs and
our morning walks past the lagoon
dear matafele peinam,
i want to tell you about that lagoon
that lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise
men say that one day
that lagoon will devour you
they say it will gnaw at the shoreline
chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees
gulp down rows of your seawalls
and crunch your island’s shattered bones
they say you, your daughter
and your granddaughter, too
will wander rootless
with only a passport to call home
dear matafele peinam,
mommy promises you
will come and devour you
no greedy whale of a company sharking through political seas
no backwater bullying of businesses with broken morals
no blindfolded bureaucracies gonna push
this mother ocean over
no one’s drowning, baby
no one’s moving
no one’s losing
no one’s gonna become
a climate change refugee
or should i say
no one else
to the carteret islanders of papua new guinea
and to the taro islanders of the solomon islands
i take this moment
to apologize to you
we are drawing the line here
because baby we are going to fight
your mommy daddy
bubu jimma your country and president too
we will all fight
and even though there are those
hidden behind platinum titles
who like to pretend
that we don’t exist
that the marshall islands
and typhoon haiyan in the philippines
and floods of pakistan, algeria, colombia
and all the hurricanes, earthquakes, and tidalwaves
there are those
who see us
hands reaching out
fists raising up
and we are
canoes blocking coal ships
the radiance of solar villages
the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past
petitions blooming from teenage fingertips
families biking, recycling, reusing,
engineers dreaming, designing, building,
artists painting, dancing, writing
and we are spreading the word
and there are thousands out on the street
marching with signs
hand in hand
chanting for change NOW
and they’re marching for you, baby
they’re marching for us
because we deserve to do more than just
dear matafele peinam,
you are eyes heavy
with drowsy weight
so just close those eyes, baby
and sleep in peace
because we won’t let you down
September 24, 2014 at 5:19 am
Reblogged this on Sinking Islands and commented:
I hope they will here us.
September 24, 2014 at 6:16 am
I join all those who say thank you for your words of wisdom.Beautiful strong words,inspiring to me.
You reduce me to tears every time.!!¨)¨)
September 24, 2014 at 7:02 am
Very touching and wonderful deliver and words at the UN Climate Summit today. Thank you Kathy, you made us islanders proud.
September 24, 2014 at 7:57 am
Beautiful – thank you for sharing this with the world!
September 24, 2014 at 4:29 pm
This poem and the speech you gave at the summit is so powerful. I’m literally bawling my eyes out. I am so proud of all your accomplishments and what the future holds for you and your family. Keep fighting Kat! Your family from the Micronesia Connections Club got your back 100% Love and miss you all. Take care!
Aloha from Hawai’i,
September 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm
Thank you for sharing your deep blue, powerful words with the world.
September 25, 2014 at 2:13 am
Poetry doing what it should to wake the world up and touch its heart – certainly touched mine. Thank you, Kate Foley
September 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm
I listened to you reading your poem at the meeting of the UN just a few minutes ago and was truly move by the words and the passion you had in reading it.
Wish I could help even in some small ways.
I wish you all the very best in the future.
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September 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm
I found you, this blog, and this amazing poem today when I went looking for new posts from the People’s Climate March & the UN Climate Summit. This is my new favorite poem!!! Although the UN video is good, I love this one the best & will show it to all of my art students. They will know about the climate change that the back-water-bullies don’t want them to know about! They will know that this is real & that we can make a change! Thank you for this beautiful, powerful, and enlightening poem!
September 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm
Reblogged this on Grant Us Peace and commented:
An amazing poet. An inspiring & powerful message of hope & promise for the next generation. Climate change is real, but we can make a difference for our children & grandchildren. Thanks, Kathy, for making the UN think & cry!
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September 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm
Reblogged this on nicciattfield and commented:
September 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm
Impressive speech at UN Climate Summit!
September 28, 2014 at 11:04 am
Where can I get a written copy of this poem to share at Organizing for the Biocommons?
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October 1, 2014 at 6:13 pm
Reblogged this on Life in Rhymes / Vida em Versos and commented:
What a lady, a fighter, a mother… a poet – prophet of the earthly truth. Beautifully & bravely done, Ms. Jetnil-Kijiner.
October 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm
Reblogged this on aliben86 and commented:
This was so moving, brought me to tears. Thank you for speaking your truth, and for speaking truth to power!
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October 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Hafa Adai, I tried to contact you via email regarding Festival of the Pacific Arts.
October 14, 2014 at 7:13 pm
Hafa adai! I didn’t see this email! Please resend at your convenience to email@example.com. Thank you!
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October 31, 2014 at 11:02 am
Reblogged this on Simon's still stanza and commented:
A friend referred Kathy’s speech-poem to me and I enjoyed it so much I am reblogging it.
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