Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For John Pule by Karlo Mila

the poet told us
there was a beach
but a hurricane came
and swallowed it up

there was also a nation of people
but a New Zealand sponsored
just as hungry
swept away people like grains of sand

with the help of
longremembered newfound family
he finds the old foundations
where hibiscus trees grow wild
with memories of his mother

using a new machete
he follows the old tracks
to a not-so-distant past
meeting his ancestors along the way
capturing them on canvas
mapping out their stories
so they will
never be lost

and his own children
will be able to find them

From Dream Fish Floating
Poem shared here with the permission of the author.

‘For John Pule’ was published in Dream Fish Floating, New Zealander Karlo Mila’s first book of poetry. Dream Fish Floating went on to win the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, the beginning of many accolades for Karlo.

Karlo’s work is courageous and broad. She seamlessly navigates political and personal subjects: from cultural considerations to identity in modern New Zealand society, from her personal development as a woman to pregnancy and motherhood. She is of Tongan, Samoan and Palangi (European) descent, and represented Tonga at the international Poetry Parnassus in London earlier this year. http://soundcloud.com/southbankcentre/sets/poetry-parnassus-2012/

Karlo has had work anthologised in Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English and Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion PoetryHer latest work, A Well Written Body, was created in collaboration with artist Delicia Sampero. It is a powerful collection of Karlo’s poems and Delicia’s beautiful artwork.

Enjoy more wonderful poems from our Tuesday Poem contributors by navigating down the left side bar.

This week's editor Leah McMenamin lives and writes in Wellington, New Zealand. You can read her Tuesday Poem blog here.


Helen Lowe said...

A powerful and evocative poem. Thank you to Karlo, for agreeing to share the poem here, and to Leah for featuring it today.

Elizabeth Welsh said...

That balance between the private and public-political is seamlessly achieved here, isn't it? The acts of making tracks, mapping, capturing on canvas are all so tied up in conceptions of ownership and these are woven into the poem quietly, unobtrusively. The final lines really hit home for me - just stunning! Thanks Karlo and Leah :)

Michelle Elvy said...

I admire the weight of this, even if it looks sparse on the page. The weight of history, identity, nature, ancestry... All of that plus the quiet momentum in this poem helping us arrive at that last line makes it so memorable. Thanks for sharing, Leah. A really wonderful thing to come to this week.