Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the margins

Interesting reflective piece from writer/poet Serie Barford, at the Poetic Inspirations blog, about her life and her poetic process. Serie has taught poetry on some of my courses, and is always well received. It's fascinating to watch an audience and a class switch gears when a poet who is an expert performer takes center stage.
Poetry often slips under the mainstream radar in New Zealand (and often elsewhere) but the poetry community is vibrant and self sustaining and poets, especially those whose public readings add an extra dimension to their written text (as Serie's do) tend to make their own waves, rather than wait for waves to come and find them.

From the article:

I’ve since resigned myself to the fact that I live in the margins and that’s okay because I can create from this space and it’s my ‘inner world’ that keeps me anchored to the ‘outer world’.

Serie's poem 'Plea to the Spanish Lady' about the influenza epidemic that devasted Samoa (and many countries) just after WW1 brings up the the issue of hidden narratives, or more correctly, narratives that are hidden. Hidden by governments, by media who represent just one strata or colour of society. How whole histories and traumas and tragedies vanish because they're not told, outside of the people who directly experienced them.

Here's an excerpt:

Plea to the Spanish Lady (extract)
 Today the Samoan Times is all news:
death notices and a front page
Today the editor died
Today Teuila’s screams awoke me
as she lay between her parents
dipping fingers in their sweat

Serie's work and the work of other Pasifika poets such as Selina Tusitala Marsh, John Pule and Karlo Mila add extra bite and resonance to what in New Zealand was often a very monochromatic literary scene. We can acknowledge Shakespeare and Browning, yes, but we don't need to be imprisoned by them. Poetry also lives here in the Pasifika New Zealand. Now.

Kudos too to Maryanne Pale for setting up this poetry blog. Long may it continue.

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