Green Tease Reflections: Island Futures
This page documents the speakers at a Green Tease event we held in September 2019, looking at the role of islands and island communities in relation to environmental issues through the contributions of two islander poets, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Roseanne Watt.
We also heard from Mairi Davies of Historic Environment Scotland who demonstrated the connections between the issues raised in the poetry and their work here in Scotland. The event sought to interrogate issues of climate justice – island communities are among those least responsible for climate change but are facing its effects first – as well as the role poetry can have for engaging with environmental issues.
Film, part 1: Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (who appeared via videolink) is a Marshallese poet, environmental campaigner and teacher of Pacific Studies who spoke at the 2014 UN Climate Leaders Summit in New York. Her most recent poetry collection Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter was published in 2017. Kathy presented two of her video poems, Anointed and Dear Matafele Peinam.
Film, part 2: Roseanne Watt and Mairi Davies
Roseanne Watt is a Shetland-born poet who writes in a mixture of English and Shetland dialect and often works with combinations of words and film. Her debut poetry collection Moder Dy (Mother Wave) was published earlier this year. Roseanne read a selection of poems from Moder Dy and presented a video poem, Kishie Wife.
Mairi Davies is Climate Change Manager at Historic Environment Scotland and an expert in coastal adaptation.
The event included with small-group discussion, which have not been included in the film. Some of the most interesting points that came out of the discussion were:
- Poetry is often concerned with ‘amplifying’ experience, feelings, or issues. Likewise environmentalists in Scotland should be trying to amplify the messages coming from communities already facing climate change impacts.
- The value of poetry in engaging with environmental issues may come from its ability to draw connections between personal experiences and wider issues in a way that is often difficult for environmental writing to achieve. Both poets work comes from their connection to a specific place and culture but it speaks to audiences from outside of these.
- As island communities are among the first to face severe climate change impacts they are among those best placed to conceptualise innovative solutions and should be listened to.
- We need to find a way of expressing the value of poetry beyond communication, but also as a different means of understanding, as a way to engage people in a new way, or even as a form of therapy for dealing with ‘climate anxiety’.
Green Tease is a network and ongoing informal events programme, connecting creative practices and environmental sustainability across Scotland. Creative Carbon Scotland runs the Green Tease Open Call, which is a funded opportunity supporting sustainability practitioners and artists to exchange ideas, knowledge and practices with the aim of building connections and widening understanding of the role of arts in influencing a more sustainable society.