Katūīvei reviewed on Poetry Shelf


Paula Green reviews Katūīvei: Contemporary Pasifika poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand edited by David Eggleton, Mere Taito and Vaughan Rapatahana for Poetry Shelf: 

‘Thank you to the poets who made audios, and to the editors, Mere, Vaughan and David, who have answered a few questions with both heart and care – you have made this post special. So moving. So very moving. I imagined being able to listen to an audio book, as I often do with a poetry collection or anthology I love so much. Thank you.

Many peoples of the Pasifika diaspora now live in Aotearoa, multiple generations that have come from multiple departure points. The editors of a new anthology of Pasifika poetry, David Eggleton, Vaughan Rapatahana and Mere Taito, have assembled a vital and magnificent weave of voices. Katūīvei is lovingly produced in a hardback version by Massey University Press. In their introduction, the editors write: ‘Pasifika peoples represent almost 10 percent of the population, are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the country, and contribute profoundly to New Zealand society in all kinds of ways, including through a vibrant efflorescence of cultural activity, from music and dance to art, theatre, film and literature.’

The editors acknowledge poets who have paved the way – with publications, performance spaces, mentoring, teaching. From the first Pasifika poet to be published here, Alistair te Ariki Campbell, with his Mine Eyes Dazzle (Pegasus Press, 1950) to Albert Wendt whose writings, poetry, teachings and mentorship have been a touchstone for generations, to Grace Iwashito-Taylor, Daren Kamali and Ramon Narayan forming the South Auckland Poetry Collective, to Selina Tusitala Marsh who has inspired new generations of poets through her own writing, performances, teachings and honours, to Doug Poole’s Blackmail Press, to anthologies edited by Albert, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan. To the ongoing wave of poets who, with new books published, slam, spoken word and festival appearances, enrich our writing communities. As David Eggleton writes: ‘By the beginning of the second decade of the millennium, Pasifika poetry had undeniably become a major presence in New Zealand literature, helping to illuminate our understanding of Aotearoa New Zealand and its place in the world on a number of levels and in a variety of ways.’

‘Katūīvei’ is a hybrid term, especially coined for the occasion, bringing together ‘kavei’ – meaning navigate, and the double voice box of the ‘tūī’. A perfect word for a collection of writing that is an act of ‘wayfinding’ between cultural spaces and creative discoveries. Katūīvei is an anthology of multiple forms, melodies, subject matter, visual images, epiphanies, confessions, challenges, grief, wounds, healing, but there is a connecting current, a deep and shared love of words, of poetry, kinship, self navigation.

As I read, I am gathering words like talismans, as steeping stones, like echoes that connect and enhance and draw me in deeper, deep into the richness of this sublime meeting place.’

Read the rest of the review here