Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

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Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
EducationUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Mills College
Notable work
'Dear Matafele Peinem' (poem)
AwardsImpact Hero of the Year (Earth Company)

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet and climate change activist from the Marshall Islands.

Jetnil-Kijiner was born in the Marshall Islands and raised in Hawaii.[1] She attended Mills College in California[2] and pursued an MA in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.[3][4]

Jetnil-Kijiner's poetry highlights issues around the environment and climate change. She also explores social injustice including colonialism, migration, and racism.[3][5]

In 2014, Jetnil-Kijiner was chosen to address the United Nations Climate Summit. She performed the piece, 'Dear Matafele Peinem', at the opening ceremony in New York.[3][6] In 2015 she was invited to speak at COP21 in Paris.[1]

Her first collections of poetry, entitled Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter, was published in 2017 by the University of Arizona Press.[3][7] It is consider the first published book of poetry written by someone from the Marshall Islands.[5]

She is a cofounder of the environmental nonprofit organization Jo-Jikum (Jodrikdrik in Jipan ene eo e Kutok Maroro) which aims to support Marshallese youth in taking action on climate change and environmental issues that affect the Marshall Islands.[3][8]

In 2015 she was selected by Vogue magazine as one of 13 Climate Warriors[9] and in 2017 named Impact Hero of the Year by Earth Company[1] In 2012 she represented the Marshall Islands at the Poetry Parnassus Festival in London.[1][4]

In 2018, Jetnil-Kijiner collaborated with Aka Niviâna, a climate change activist poet from Greenland, to write a poem about their stories of climate change. The poem, "Rise: From One Island to Another," explains the destruction of two opposite homelands and the reality of melting icecaps and rising sea levels.[10] In an interview with Grist Magazine, Jetnil-Kijiner said that "when she found herself face-to-face with a physical body that threatens to submerge her ancestral homeland, she felt reverence, not anger." [11]

Jetnil-Kijiner currently teaches at the College of the Marshall Islands and is the Pacific Studies faculty instructor.[1][12]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Earth Company Impact Hero 2017: Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner". Earth Company. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Mills College Viewbook 2015". Mills College Viewbook. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner". Pacific Community. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b Maclellan, Nic (22 November 2014). "Young Pacific islanders are not climate change victims – they're fighting". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter". The University of Arizona Press. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner speaking at the Climate Summit - UN Climate Summit 2014". UN Climate Summit 2014. 23 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  7. ^ Jetnil-Kijiner, Kathy (2017). Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 9780816534029.
  8. ^ "Meet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Marshall Islands - Nobel Women's Initiative". Nobel Women's Initiative. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  9. ^ Russell, Cameron (30 November 2015). "Climate Warriors". Vogue. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  10. ^ McKibben, Bill (12 September 2018). "High ice and hard truth: the poets taking on climate change". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Indigenous poets read urgent climate message on a melting glacier". Grist. 1 November 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner". Women’s Media Center. Retrieved 9 November 2017.

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