New Oceania Poetry Interviewscurated by Craig Santos Perez
with Audrey Brown-Pereira, Lehua M. Taitano and Dan Taulapapa McMullinand an afterword by No’u Revilla
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In New Oceania Poetry Interviews, Craig Santos Perez converses with three contemporary poets to explore the “avant-garde edge” of Pacific poetry.
AN EXCERPT FROM THE INTRODUCTION
“Literary historians trace the origins of contemporary Pacific poetry to the 1960s and 1970s, when many Pacific islands were transformed by movements for demilitarization, cultural revitalization and political sovereignty. Pacific literature was a vital component of these movements because our stories offered a space to expose the injustices of colonialism, to celebrate the resilience of our peoples, and to advocate for a decolonized future.
During the last 50 years, there has been an eruption of anthologies, chapbooks and single-author collections of Pacific poetry published throughout the Pacific and the United States. These works have circulated in classrooms, bookstores and online; additionally, Pacific poets have themselves circulated their works via live performances in local and international venues.
The major themes of Pacific poetry include culture, identity, kinship, colonialism, tourism, religion, sexuality, gender, migration, militarism, urbanism, nature, environmental justice, politics, language, mixed-race heritage and more. Cutting across these themes are a range of diverse poetic styles, from free verse to sonnets, from the confessional to the documentary, from the postmodern to the lyric.”
Audrey Brown-Pereira was born in 1975 in Rarotonga, and is of Cook Islands Maori and Samoan descent. Her newest poetic collection is passages in between i(s)lands. Her poetry also appears in Mauri Ola, Whetu Moana and Mana. Her work draws on visual and aural elements, as can be seen in her collection with new-media artist Veronica Vaevae, Threads of Tivaevae: Kaleido skope of Kolours (2002), her New Zealand Fringe Festival performance piece Teuki: Past with the Present (2002), art catalogues Akara ki Mua (2001) and Inei Konei (1998), the experimental film The Rainbow (1998) and short film The Cats Are Crying (1995).
Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent, and author of three collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha], from unincorporated territory [saina] and from unincorporated territory [guma’]. He is an associate professor in the English Department and affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa.
No’u Revilla is a Kanaka Maoli poet and PhD student in English at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa. She has performed throughout Hawaiʻi, as well as in Papua New Guinea and Toronto. She recently organized the Aloha ʻĀina Zine Workshop in solidarity with the protectors of Mauna Kea.
Lehua M. Taitano, a native Chamoru from Yigo, Guahån (Guam), is a queer poet, writer and artist living in Sonoma County, California. She is the author of one volume of poetry, A Bell Made of Stones, and the H.G. Merriam-Frontier Award-winning chapbook appalachiapacific (2010).
Dan Taulapapa McMullin is an artist whose practice includes painting, installation, video, collage, photography, sculpture, poetry, text and performance. His book of poetry, Coconut Milk, was named by the American Library Association in its top 10 best GLBT books of the year. He was artist-in-residence at the De Young Museum in San Francisco and the University of the South Pacific’s Oceania Centre for the Arts in Suva, and taught painting and poetry for indigenous artists with First Light Alaska and Honolulu Museum of Art School. In 2015 he is taking part in exhibitions at the Pacific Islander Ethnic Museum in Long Beach and at the Oakland Museum. His studio practice is based in Hudson, New York.