An Ocean of Words and Activism: Contemporary Environmental Poetry from Pacific Islands


Lecture by Dr. Yvonne Kaisinger

Monday, November 12th, 6:30 PM,

NIG, Universitätsstraße 7, 4th floor, Hörsaal A

Sea levels are rising and Pacific Islands have become hotspots for loss of biodiversity, natural and man-made disasters, and homogenization of cultures. Literature, and in particular poetry, has always played a crucial role in depicting political, social, historical, and environmental issues. Through creative depictions of these issues, contemporary Pacific poetry makes the notion of environmental (in)justice more tangible for Western readers. The presence of the non-human environment in these written and performed texts suggests an impossibility to separate ourselves from the consequences of climate change that can already be felt on Pacific Islands on a daily basis. Writer-activists such as Cathie Dunsford (Aotearoa-New Zealand), Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (Marshall Islands), and Selina Tusitala Marsh (Samoa) use their art to foster an ongoing dialogue between their islands and the rest of the world.