Friday, 11 April 2014

Just another Pasifika poet


I am just another Pasifika poet
a token, a sound bite
No matter what I write
my words cannot stand
on their own
because I am not quite white.

I am just another Pasifika poet
so I must speak in iambic pentameter
    or you will conclude
I don’t know what that is
and I learnt my craft on youtube

You will say I must be copying Def Poetry Jam
Because you know

We are
both brown.

You
who have never heard the beauty
of a tulafale’s words
unfurling in full flight
   dipping and soaring
on wings of light
                      the sound of a gafa
melodious and sweet
                                                and deep
a dangerous lullaby
that can rip you apart with its teeth

and
you
who
would not understand

anyway

you say

I am just another Pasifika poet
On a search for identity
As if I don’t know
my entire geneaology
you say I am obsessed with the other
because I do not talk about you
as if Aotearoa is not part of the Pacific
and Pasifika
does not belong here too

and the most disturbing thing is

you didn’t even
seem
to realize
that what you were saying was offensive
or how it was a stereotype
you truly seemed to believe

you 

were

reporting

facts.


because you are

palagi

(I assume…
like you did)

and your words

stand


on their own.



and I




am

just another 
Pasifika poet
No matter what I write
My words cannot stand
on their own
Because I am not quite white
and this

this

is just another sound bite


I hope it rips you apart

with its teeth.

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Author's postscript:  I was not going to dignify an 'article' that was published in The Big Idea with a response.  I went instead to SUP and performed a couple of the poems (Denial and A Lament -that are already up on this blog) in solidarity.  But it was not enough.  Too often we look the other way.  As evident by the title of this blog-  I normally live in Sydney.  I have lived in Australia for more than 10 years now.  As an Australian (as well as a Samoan and a New Zealander) I own that Australia has issues with racism.  Popular culture tell us that New Zealand is more accepting, a place that truly embraces its Pacific heritage.  I was looking forward to this change during my 'gap year' (as I am referring to it so I can sound youthful like that). So I have been somewhat shocked that New Zealand hasn't quite been the utopia of multi-cultural respect that I fondly recalled.  I can honestly say that I have had moments since arriving in Auckland where I have listened to people speak, or read an article such as this one, and thought that I have never felt more brown.  This is my response.

6 comments:

lisa taouma said...

hey luv your work - we would like to share some of it on www.thecoconet.tv - we are starting a Poly writers forum on our blog site soon -check out tusiatas work on the cocoblog :)
let me know how to contact you to chat x
Lisa Taouma

Teine Samoa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LandP2010 said...

Thank you Teine Samoa - love your work and keen to share through my work as an expression of voice...I am a teacher in WA

thank you
Petro

Teine Samoa said...

Thank you LandP2010- I always appreciate feedback. I love blogging because of how many people you can connect to and share with. There has never been money in poetry - my aim with my poetry is to try and reach as wide an audience as possible and hope that it speaks to others.

Malelega said...

Very sad but your poems do stand on their own...simply because they're beautiful and ring true.

Teine Samoa said...

Thanks Omega- I believe many peoples work stand on their own but unfortunately if you are not of the majority your work often gets pigeonholed!