Vaughan Rapatahana (new)

Feasting in the Skinny Country: Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry

These ladies are not afraid to rage against the machines

Kiwi Asian women poets have strong opinions. [Part one]

Malaysia at dusk.
Malaysia at dusk.

I was completing a chapter in the forthcoming 2019 book, English in the South, edited by Kyria Finardi and published by Eduel, Brazil, when I thought that I really must write a commentary regarding the influx of young Asian poets, who were born in Aotearoa New Zealand, or have arrived to live here for long periods. Why? Because my chapter is entitled Confronting the English language Hydra in Aotearoa New Zealand and bemoans the lack of recognition given to Asian languages in the country because of the domination of English language exponents and their monolingual expectations, and the concomitant definite lack of deference to Asian peoples per se  despite the fact they will be the second largest cultural demographic here by 2026.

Sit up and listen: Tusiata Avia.

Tusiata Avia [photo credit — Hayley Theyer, courtesy of Phantom.]
Tusiata Avia [photo credit — Hayley Theyer, courtesy of Phantom.]

Sit up and listen! The poetry of Tusiata Avia demands that you do, whether you are reading it in book/online form, or more especially if you see her perform her work live. Check out also the links to her delivering on YouTube, as listed below this commentary.

Talofa lava. (Hello to you).

Sit up and listen! The poetry of Tusiata Avia demands that you do, whether you are reading it in book/online form, or more especially if you see her perform her work live. Check out also the links to her delivering on YouTube, as listed below this commentary.

Before I write more, let me provide a bit of background information about Tusiata.

Paddling his own waka: Bob Orr, poet extraordinary

The work of New Zealand poet Bob Orr

Bob Orr
Bob Orr

Bob Orr has been a well-regarded New Zealand poet for several decades, having eight collections of poetry produced to date, with a new collection due out soon. He is also rather different to so many ‘modern’ poets, in that he has always paddled his own poetic waka (or canoe) in and through his own currents. Oaring across his own ocean, if you will. Bob never completed any tertiary education. He never attended any  university ‘creative writing’ classes in an endeavour to craft his poetry ‘better.’ Up until very recently, when he was the 2017 University of Waikato Writer in Residence, he eschewed any applications for literary grants. He rarely, if ever, uses a computer to write with or on — he doesn’t even have an email address.

Artists across another terrain: Non-Kiwi interpretations of Kiwi poetry

Overseas representations of New Zealand poetry

Overseas representations of New Zealand poetry
the drift project

Kia ora ano [Hello again].

As promised in the previous commentary, in these variegated tangents away from the vast soft white underbelly of New Zealand poetry, I here focus on two non–New Zealanders and their valuable and vitally different representations of Kiwi poets and their mahi, or work. One is French, one is American; both have been keenly involved in publishing or producing New Zealand poems for quite some time now. Both are visual artists. Alphabetically, I now approach them — America to France.

Outside looking back in: Kiwi calibrate Kiwi poetry from afar.

Kiwi look back at Kiwi poetry

Three New Zealand writers look back at Kiwi poetry
Three New Zealand writers look back at Kiwi poetry

Kia ora ano.

As I strive to spread out any potential ingrained clench as to what makes for Kiwi poetry, any Kiwi poetic, away from ‘mainstream’ clutches that demand ‘appropriate’ ways of writing, presenting and publishing a poem, in this commentary I take into consideration what three expatriate Kiwi (aka Aotearoa New Zealand) writers think/reflect about Kiwi poetry from afar.