Two Indigenous Poets got together despite living on the opposite side of the World, the reason? Climate Change.

Inuk poet Aka Niviâna from Greenland where the glaciers are melting and Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands in Micronesia where the seas are rising, decided to collaborate in the writing and reciting of a poem.

The two women brought a small film crew with them to a remote spot on southern Greenland’s ice sheet to the top of a melting glacier. There, one dressed in white, the other in black they recited their poem “Rise: From One Island to Another ”

This is an invitation to take a few minutes to watch this film, unplug from your daily distractions, immerse yourself in the beauty of our shared home, and let the poetry heal.

Subtitles available and in other languages. Click on CC button

Rise: From One Island To Another from Dan Lin on Vimeo.

Addressing one another as “sister of ice and snow” and “sister of ocean and sand,” the two ceremoniously exchange gifts of shells and stones in a story that is cinematically beautiful. The message on the other hand, is one we wish wouldnt need to go further than the stuff of legends they are referring to like, Sassuma Arnaa Mother of the Sea. But those legends are the prelude to a much more sinister reality.

“I’m not here to convince someone else of my humanity or the reality of our situation,” Jetnil-Kijiner said. “I’m just trying to create a different sort of experience that speaks more truth to my own.”

rise poets climate change
Dan Lin / Rise

We hope this poem can spark the emotion and drive needed for more people to rise and take action.

For Dan Lin, the director of the short film Rise, the underlying science behind the story is important. But at its core, he says it’s a project about climate change as viewed through the eyes of two indigenous female poets. Together, they weave a story of beautiful yet fragile landscapes and of resilient peoples in the face of injustice.

Read the Poem

I’m coming to you
from the land of my ancestors,
from atolls, sunken volcanoes–undersea descent
of sleeping giants

I welcome you
to the land of my ancestors
to the land where they sacrificed their lives
to make mine possible
to the land
of survivors.

I’m coming to you
from the land my ancestors chose.
Aelon Kein Ad,
Marshall Islands,
a country more sea than land.
I welcome you to Kalaallit Nunaat,
Greenland,
the biggest island on earth.

I bring with me these shells
that I picked from the shores
of Bikini atoll and Runit Dome

I hold these stones
picked from the shores of Nuuk,
the foundation of the land I call my home.

With these shells I bring a story of long ago
two sisters frozen in time on the island of Ujae,
one magically turned into stone
the other who chose that life
to be rooted by her sister’s side.
To this day, the two sisters
can be seen by the edge of the reef,
a lesson in permanence.

With these rocks I bring
a story told countless times
a story about Sassuma Arnaa, Mother of the Sea,
who lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean.

This is a story about
the guardian of the Sea.
She sees the greed in our hearts,
the disrespect in our eyes.
Every whale, every stream,
every iceberg
are her children.

When we disrespect them
she gives us what we deserve,
a lesson in respect.

Do we deserve the melting ice?
the hungry polar bears coming to our islands
or the colossal icebergs hitting these waters with rage
Do we deserve
their mother,
coming for our homes
for our lives?

From one island to another
I ask for solutions.
From one island to another
I ask for your problems

Let me show you the tide
that comes for us faster
than we’d like to admit.
Let me show you
airports underwater
bulldozed reefs, blasted sands
and plans to build new atolls
forcing land
from an ancient, rising sea,
forcing us to imagine
turning ourselves to stone.

Can you see our glaciers groaning
with the weight of the world’s heat?
I wait for you, here,
on the land of my ancestors
heart heavy with a  thirst
for solutions
as I watch this land
change
while the World remains silent.

I come to you now in grief
mourning landscapes
that are always forced to change

first through wars inflicted on us
then through nuclear waste
dumped
in our waters
on our ice
and now this.

I offer you these rocks,
the foundation of my home.
On our journey
may the same unshakable foundation
connect us,
make us stronger,
than the colonizing monsters
that to this day devour our lives
for their pleasure.
The very same beasts
that now decide,
who should live
who should die.

I offer you this shell
and the story of the two sisters
as testament
as declaration
that despite everything
we will not leave.
Instead
we will choose stone.
We will choose
to be rooted in this reef
forever.

From these islands
we ask for solutions.
From these islands

we ask
we demand that the world see beyond
SUV’s, ac’s, their pre-packaged convenience
their oil-slicked dreams, beyond the belief
that tomorrow will never happen, that this
is merely an inconvenient truth.
Let me bring my home to yours.
Let’s watch as Miami, New York,
Shanghai, Amsterdam, London,
Rio de Janeiro, and Osaka
try to breathe underwater.
You think you have decades
before your homes fall beneath tides?
We have years.
We have months
before you sacrifice us again
before you watch from your tv and computer screens waiting
to see if we will still be breathing
while you do nothing.

My sister,
From one island to another
I give to you these rocks
as a reminder
that our lives matter more than their power
that life in all forms demands
the same respect we all give to money
that these issues affect each and everyone of us
None of us is immune
And that each and everyone of us has to decide
if we
will
rise

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