Whetu Moana: An Anthology of Polynesian Poetry
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Whetu Moana is the first anthology of contemporary Polynesian poetry in English edited by Polynesians. It collects poems written over the last twenty years from more than 60 poets in Aotearoa, Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue and Rotuma. Well-known poets like Hone Tuwhare, Alistair Campbell and Haunani-Kay Trask are joined by talented young voices, the poets appearing in alphabetical order in a way that presents both an overall Polynesian identity and a focus on individual style. Traditional laments mix with street-smart rap rhythms; images of seascapes and landscapes mingle with shots of urban slums. Political anger is a powerful force in these poems but many are personal and particular. Whetu Moana reveals an active, changing, varied, creative scene, which confronts both a complex colonial past and a fast-moving global present with energy, courage and vitality.
lagoons. This anthology is confined to poetry from most of the countries mentioned because they are English-speaking but, because of an accident of history, it is forced to exclude work from French-speaking Polynesia. Over the last 200 years, under the influences of colonialism first from Europe, then America and Asia, our cultures have changed rapidly. Religion, diet, transport, housing, communication, every facet of life has been influenced by the colonial influx. As well, many of our people
myths surrounding Captain Cook. We hope this anthology succeeds in shifting the western gaze from current and historical myths onto the expressive reality of the poets included here. Being Polynesians who love poetry, we wanted to look at the poetry that has developed in our region over the last two decades, and through that poetry to look at what has happened and is happening to ourselves and our cultures. Poetry is one of our most ancient art forms and is still respected and loved by our
look a bit confused but I think they are just confused by my feminine accent I try to get a grunt out with more resonance, more depth Now they really are beginning to take a second look at me I decide to talk in my own housewife-don’t-mess-with-me voice “I really want to get rid of those aluminium windows, I want wooden ones” If my uncle’s mate didn’t understand grunts, he understands this less “Why you want to get rid of those for, you have to paint the wood ones every five years” He
of hell fruit. Smouldering coals. Hugging a basket of answers. Ruby fluid trickles in the fissure where hearts have their compartments. Frog spawn. Borne on the river ride. Arteries beat. Clustered streets. Between the Flags Surfers say beware of calm surfaces where feeder currents run. Labour weekend, come Monday the kowhai rains. Apple orchard parabolas in a transmarine season. Magnetic iron sands at Muriwai like walking in an advent calendar thinking of dracaenas punkish
remembrance within him when he loved me So silly yet so real The postcard of a village in Alsace-Lorraine still looks picturesque though we stopped writing after two years and today as the sun eclipses I imagine him married with gorgeous children Wondering what our child could have looked like as I’ve done countless times since he kissed into my hair the image of a babe with my skin your hair and eyes our smile I’d known that only a wife who would stay forever could have his