Vaughan Rapatahana (new)

Feasting in the Skinny Country: Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry

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.

Tusiata lives in Christchurch [New Zealand]. She has published three books of poetry, including Wild Dogs Under My Skirt and Bloodclot, and three children’s books. Known for her dynamic performance style, she has also written and performed a one-woman show, also called Wild Dogs Under My Skirt

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.

Robert Sullivan — an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet, editor, and scholar

Robert Sullivan

Robert Sullivan
Robert Sullivan. [Photo by Rachel J. Fenton]

This commentary post features Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu iwi). Robert is an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet/author, in that his work flows across several parameters. What do I mean by this? Firstly, Robert is Māori — his iwi or tribal affiliations are as listed above and indeed encompass the entirety of New Zealand in that Ngāpuhi is northern and Kāi Tahu is southern in locality. Being Māori necessarily incorporates a different epistemological outlook and ontological stance — as conveyed in many of his poems. Quite simply, then, Robert sees and senses differently to a majority of New Zealand poets; yet at the same time he is more than capable of writing poems in a ‘mainstream’ English-language fashion, should he choose to.

Kia ora ano [Hello once more].

This commentary post features Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi and Kāi Tahu iwi). Robert is an important Aotearoa New Zealand poet/author, in that his work flows across several parameters. What do I mean by this?