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Nō Tāu Manawa

Fale Aitu | Spirit House
by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press, $25)
‘Reviewed’ by Vaughan Rapatahana

Fale-Aitu_Spirit_House_webfa’afetai Tusiata, fa’afetai,
you’ve swerved & served us a masterclass corpus
through graft
of tears & fears.

Palestine, New York, Mangere;
street-smart & worldly,
you spill your guts, you bare/bear your soul;
Christchurch, Samoa, Africa;
eerie images rash throughout this weft —
dead people, lost babies, past heroes;
rape, mayhem – they’re just a shot away
missiles, earthquake – they’re just a block away
& as for the atua,
you really have to pray.

tālofa lava Tusiata, tālofa
kia ora mō tēnei pukapuka iti o ngā whiti
ka nui te pai,
nō tāu manawa.
found verse, prose bricks, unattached pronouns;
powerful & experimental,
you angry your past, you pain your hurt;
cathartic, erratic, erotic;
hoodoo voodoo magic wafting a spell —
inequality, iniquity, insanity;
marginalization, victimization – they’re here today
dispossession, violence – they’re near today
& as for the aitu,
they really never go away.

manuia Tusiata, manuia
this is the best body of poetry
I’ve hugged for years.

Glossary:

[Samoan]
fa’afetai – thank you
tālofa lava – hello
manuia – cheers
atua – gods
aitu — evil spirits

[Māori]
mō tēnei pukapuka iti o ngā whiti
                                               ka nui te pai,
                                                            nō tāu manawa
– for this excellent small book of poems from your heart