Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pacific Tsunami Found Poems by Teresia Teaiwa

The telephone says
The body says
The multinational corporation says
Samoans had taken the sea’s friendship for granted
We can’t imagine            It’s unimaginable
Free phone calls to Samoa             (But only one Samoa)

God’s minister says
God’s children say
God says

The wave was God’s way
We can’t concentrate on our assignments
I prepared a speech but I will not be reading it

Surfer says
Waiter says
Sean says

The sea got sucked down below the reef
What’s one metre of water going to do?

Teddy Bear says
Ute says
Baby says

Hello to the pole
Hello to the tree
Hello to strangers on the beach

Solomon says
Viti says
Niue says


New Zealand is scrambling
An Air Force Orion

New Zealand is scrambling
Hercules             staff and supplies

New Zealand is scrambling
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English

New Zealand is scrambling
More Kiwi casualties feared

A depression moves
with a weak ridge extending

Then, late in the day,
a cold front sweeps

Strengthening westerly
in the moist westerly

Slow moving over
a cold southwest flow

Cold southerlies spread over
high over, ridge over

Then, late in the day,
a cold front sweeps

Credit note: "Pacific Tsunami Found Poems" was previously published in Going Down Swinging No.30, 2010, and is published here by permission of the author.

Editor's Note: Ever since I heard and enjoyed Teresia reading at one of the monthly Ballroom Café poetry readings in Wellington, I have wanted to post one of her poems on the Tuesday Poem blog, and she kindly agreed to my doing so.

Poets in the Asia-Pacific region have had all too many opportunities to write poems in response to natural disasters in the last few years. This is one of the best I've read.

Teresia Teaiwa teaches at Victoria University of Wellington in the Pacific Studies programme.

Her literary publications include a collection of poetry titled Searching for Nei Nim'anoa (available for sale here), and two CDs -- I can see Fiji  and Terenesia: Amplified Poetry and Songs by Teresia Teaiwa and Sia Figiel

Tim Jones is the editor of this week's Tuesday Poem. Tim is a poet, author and editor who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. His third poetry collection, "Men Briefly Explained", will be published by Interactive Press (Brisbane, Aus.) later this year.

To see this week's other Tuesday Poems, please visit the links labelled "Tuesday Poem" in the sidebar.


Jennifer Compton said...

oh yeah

susan t. landry said...

sparkling like crystals! thanks so much for bringing this startling poet/poetry to our attention, Tim.

Sarah Jane Barnett said...

Fantastic! I haven't heard of Teresia Teaiwa before, but will watch out for her from now on. This poem is so carefully managed. Wonderful.

Emma said...

<3 this! Thanks Tim and Teresia!

Elizabeth Welsh said...

I haven't encountered Teresia before either and it seems like I am missing out! The repetition of 'says' with the absence of any speech to follow is rather haunting. Thanks so much for sharing, Tim!

Anonymous said...

Tere and Tim, thank you daughter and thank you editor for sharing this. Verse 4 is particularly poignant... Mum/Joan

Janis said...

Great poem.

Mary McCallum said...

I agree - this poem is a powerful creature - its power in the ordinary media-speak that doesn't do justice to the devastation of Samoa because it isn't using the language of Samoa or because there is no language for what has been suffered ...I love 'New Zealand is scrambling/Deputy Prime Minister Bill English' - his name an unexpected pun? I agree with Mum/Joan that the final section is very poignant indeed. Thanks Tim and Tere.