As a brief coda to last year's series of commentary posts regarding Aotearoa New Zealand poetics and poetry, I am privileged to be able to feature three fine women poets: Ivy Alvarez; Reihana Robinson; Grace Taylor. All three fit, if you will, the parameters I claimed would establish the future direction of an increasingly multicultural country. None of them could be classified as pākehā middle-class poets and all tend towards the experimental and/or performance and/or indigenous striates of poetry. Significantly and obviously, all three are women. Theirs is the future of poetry in the skinny country of Aotearoa — inevitably, for as I have stressed several times previously — the demographic of Aotearoa is rapidly and rather radically on the move into major diversity. More, these three writers involve themselves in shared self-reflections about their own layered identities — ethnic, linguistic, cultural — in this zone of change, that is Aotearoa. Just like the inevitable future national flag transformation here, away from union jacks and governor-generals, poetics here will inevitably reflect more and more female, multiethnic poets of spirit; who swerve off in directions from so-called mainstream verse, while writing and performing in forms of English far from so-called standardized English, if indeed they even write in that language at all.
He hokinga ki tēnei whare o ngā whiti! [A return to this poetry house!]
As a further brief coda to last year's series of commentary posts regarding Aotearoa New Zealand poetics and poetry, I am privileged to be able to feature three fine women poets: Ivy Alvarez; Reihana Robinson; Grace Taylor.
Tetahi atu he mihi mahana ki a katoa (Another warm greeting to all.)
In this, my last commentary post of this series — apart from a brief Coda next week — I want to talk about two distinct areas of the Aotearoa-New Zealand poetry scene that I have alluded to previously, but nor really covered copiously as yet.
One is the vital and brimming Poetry Slam situation in this multicultural land — a scene that is really expanding fast, most particularly among younger poets, and certainly among Polynesian poets who tend not to live in stuffy urban areas, but more likely in places like Mangere, where I grew up.
I began this three-month commentary post series with a question as to whether there is or could be an Aotearoa poetic.
I noted back then that I had modified my stance so as to say there seemed to be so many poetry scenes within the country of New Zealand, some thriving, some growing, and one still dominant, that there could not be a single identifiable Aotearoa poetic. I have had no reason to alter this viewpoint as the series went on, only — in fact — to say now even more clearly, that New Zealand has several divergent poetics, not always empathetic to one another …
There are the experimentalists, both within and outside a textual framework. Then there are the poetry slam competitors, whereby orality is king. There are burgeoning Pasifika and Asian groupings, depicting their own tropes and utilising their own languages. There are the fighting small presses and periodicals, staunchly keeping open the possibilities of a poet being published at all, while some more off-the-wall publications — such as Cats & Spaghetti Press — are striving to sustain deep diversity.
He mihi tino mahana ki a katoa hoki. [A warm greeting to all also.]
Ko he korero tēnei mo ngā kaituhi wāhine Māori kei konei: ngā wāhine tino mōhio me ki te timata o te tuhi te taima katoa. Te tuhi o ngā mōteatea, ngā waiata, ngā ruri, ngā whiti te mea te mea te mea. [This is a commentary about Māori women writers: very intelligent women always at the creation of writing. Writing song-poetry, songs, love poems, verse and so on.]
Ka huri ahau ki te reo Ingarahi ināianei mo ngā tangata i kāore mohio taku reo tuatahi. [I will now turn to the English language for the people who don't know my first language.]
Māori women, then, are often the inaugrators, the initiators of poetry. Here it is stressed yet again that for Māori everything is connected holistically, that it is all rather arbitrary to sub-divide songs as separate from poetry and so on, that such are pākehā striates only.