Songs and Poems

Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter

Poetry. By Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner. 2017. 90 pages.
Poetry reveals the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 21st Century
Themes: Climate Justice, Environment, Pacific Islander, Racism & Racial Identity, Women's History

Remarkably, Iep Jāltok is the first book ever published by a writer from the Marshall Islands — the 29 atolls and five islands that the U.S. government thought would make swell testing grounds for nuclear weapons in the 1940s and 1950s.

The United States tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshalls, including the 1954 Castle Bravo test on Bikini Atoll, 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The Marshalls are now ground zero for a different kind of colonial invasion — this time of rising seas and king tides, products of “development,” of climate change.

Climate Justice More Resources Ad | Zinn Education ProjectIn her poetry, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner confronts the intersection of colonialism, nuclear testing, climate change, and resistance. Her work is beautifully and painfully accessible to middle and high school students. [Description from Rethinking Schools]

ISBN: 978-0-8165-3402-9 | University of Arizona Press

Visit Jetñil-Kijiner’s website to learn more about life, activism, and art.

See also the Democracy NOW! video featuring Jetñil-Kijiner:

Related Teacher Stories

Read two Rethinking Schools articles, “Teaching to the Heart: Poetry, Climate Change, and Sacred Spaces,” a teacher’s account of how she introduced Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner’s poetry to her middle school classroom, and “Climate Change, Gender, and Nuclear Bombs” by Bill Bigelow.

Climate Justice Tell Your Story Ad | Zinn Education Project

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