Monthly Archives: September 2014

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s Poem on Climate Change Shows the Power of Poetry

kathy_jetnil-kijinerKathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year-old poet, writer, artist, and journalist from the Marshall Islands, recited her poem about climate change and its effects to a delegation of world leaders at the United Nations who had gathered for the Climate Leaders Summit earlier this week on September 23.   Jetnil-Kijiner had been chosen to perform her piece alongside the impassioned speeches of presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities, including Al Gore (Chairman of Generation Investment Management and the Climate Reality Project) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor and UN Messenger of Peace).

Her performance, which ended with her being joined by her newborn daughter and husband, brought many world leaders to tears:

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Jetnil-Kijiner’s home is the Marshall Islands, a group of low-lying coral atolls in the northern Pacific Ocean, which have already witnessed the effects of rising ocean levels.  Her poem, ocean161marisl_003‘Dear Matafele Peinem,’ was written to her daughter: “You are so excited for bananas, hugs and our morning walks along the lagoon.”

The lagoon becomes a key metaphor for her, her daughter, and the future of the Marshall Islands:  “I want to tell you about that lagoon. That lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise. Men say, that one day, that lagoon will devour you.” The rising ocean levels have caused the waters in the lagoon overflow their banks, slowly ‘devouring’ the land around it.’  

But in Jetnil-Kijiner’s poem, the lagoon does not yet win:

“And we are canoes blocking coal ships. We are the radiance of solar villages. We are the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past. We are petitions blooming from teenage fingertips.

 

We are families biking, recycling, reusing, engineers dreaming, designing, building, artists painting, dancing, writing.

 

“We are spreading the word. And there are thousands out on the street, marching with signs, hand in hand chanting for change NOW.”

Her performance received a standing ovation from world leaders and summit delegates, proving (yet again) the power of poetry.  You can see Jetnil-Kijiner performing her piece at the UN Summit here and watch a high-definition video for it here.

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(I) Read Banned Books!

The Central Pen joins the American Library Association (ALA) in celebrating Banned Books Week (September 21-27, 2014) where we pull out all of those so-called ‘naughty’ books that have been challenged, banned, defaced, and sometimes even stolen from our nation’s libraries because of what some view as contested themes, depictions, or characters.

Banned Books

Banned Books Week is an opportunity to celebrate free speech, literacy, and creativity.  It also is an opportunity to focus our attention on an issue that is rarely discussed when we talk about education: censorship.  Literature and censorship have a long, fraught history precisely because the written word is so incredibly powerful.  It can shape ideas and narratives.  It can push political and social issues and opinions.  It can persuade and inform.  It can be used to uplift people and ideas just as easily as it can be use to destroy them.


Here are some of The Pen‘s favorite banned books from the 21st Century:

  1. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    • Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    • Reasons: offensive language; racism
  3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    • Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  4. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    • Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    • Reason: sexually explicit
  6. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    • Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    • Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    • Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  9. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    • Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  10. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    • Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

Don’t just read banned books–share them!  Leave your favorites in the comments.

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Photography Submission: Jeannette Archer-Simons

At The Central Pen, we are committed to all types of art and artists, including the visual arts.  We believe that creative expression, no matter the medium, has an important place in our education and in our lives.   With that said, please enjoy the following submission by a member of our creative community.

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About the artist.

Jeannette Archer-Simons has served as an adjunct professor teaching business courses at Central Penn College for the last four years.  She is President of Archer-Simons Consulting Group specializing in nonprofit and small business development, strategy, turnaround and leadership transition.  She is a professional writer for multiple online publications, a national speaker and an amateur photographer.  She has been married to her best friend and husband Bob for nearly 35 years.

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The following photographs were taken in scenic surroundings of Central Pennsylvania and feature the regions famous historical covered bridges.  Please click on an image to see it in full scale.

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Jeannette Archer-Simons

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Jeannette Archer-Simons

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Covered Bridges

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These photographs have been submitted to The Central Pen for inclusion in their e-zine and print editions and have been reproduced here by permission.  To submit your own creative work, see our submissions guidelines on our “Submissions” page.

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Poetry Submission: Tynesha Robinson

Poetry is the music of our soul here at The Central Pen, and we have a fantastic community of lyrical artists. From free verse to spoken word to slant rhyme, we love it all, and we are here to share our creative energies with you.  Enjoy this submission from one of our homegrown poets.


About the writer.

Tynesha Robinson was born and raised in Washington, DC, and graduated from Oxon Hill High in 2013. She attends Central Penn, receiving her associates in marketing in the near future. Eventually, she is hoping to continue her education and start a fashion and interior design degree.

My body is the barrier

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My body is the barrier,
that protects the depth
.
the soul keeps the sweeps, like I’m​ never swept.
.
The newer is the newest
The cooler is the coolest….
.
If I follow the rules
can I still be the nudist.
.
Cloudy with a chance of happiness
thunder with some rain.
.
My body is the barrier
.
Maybe my crutch possibly my cane

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