Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

a page from the book with words highlighted 'tell them we are afraid'

a nutshell: this dazzling debut collection from a Marshallese poet & activist is a rallying call to action on climate change, while also carrying the traumas of racism and US nuclear testing

a line: “Tell them | we are afraid”

an image: so many pages of this collection are stunningly shaped – from the words scattered across pages to mirror a child’s hair falling out from chemo to the words that weave a basket to reflect the matrilineal society of the Marshallese

a thought: at several points, the poet notes the strain of colourism that runs through society (such as “Ma’s consistent warning” to remember bonnet so she doesn’t “turn brown”) which reminded me of the writer Shazia Usman’s book, Kaluti, on self-love in the face of such attitudes

a fact: the destruction wreaked by the United States’ nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands crops up in many heart-breaking poems throughout the collection; as the poet writes, “most Marshallese can say they’ve mastered the language of cancer”

want to read Iep Jāltok? visit here