Tuesday Poem: Afastina by Grace Teuila Evelyn Taylor
for Selina & Tusiata
can your palangi hands do the brown siva?
can you Sāmoa siva a show and tell?
rebirth a longing for butterfly belongings
I used to hide unknown in their shame
is my show and tell
I inherited this landscape of cultural monarchs
they whisper stories of missed belongings
white is my shame
for I am, Afakasi
Can you tell?
bowing to tulou for unsighted monarchs
claiming five senses for a sense of belongings
poetry to disguise the shame
let your words do the siva
She was known as a wanderer, before a butterfly monarch
black veins on wings atlas her belongings
casting aside her shame
she reclaimed this name Afakasi
dancing a sacred siva
the stories of taboo she can tell
Carving new belongings
no game of shame
she displays a whole Afakasi
share and tell
fluttering on the wings of monarchs
What is so shame
about being Afakasi?
beautifully awkward colourless siva
is the truth of how we tell
of newly carved belongings
So shame on the lies they tell
you; Afakasi are modern monarchs
stretch your siva wide, cast your belongings
Posted with permission Editor: Robert Sullivan.
'Afastina' appears in Grace Taylor’s enormously satisfying debut poetry collection Afakasi Speaks, which was recently launched in Auckland and Wellington. The collection explores the poet’s Samoan and English heritage in an engaging, socially connected poetic. The poet is a co-founder of the South Auckland Poets Collective, and the Rising Voices youth poetry slam. She has also performed her work in the United States, and nationally.
The book is published by innovative Hawaiian publisher Ala Press. There will be a launch in Honolulu in December. Here is a link to the Amazon site for readers interested in purchasing the collection.
This week's editor, Robert Sullivan, is of Nga Puhi, Kai Tahu and Irish descent, and is a poet and academic. He has lived and worked in Hawai'i but teaches now at the School of Creative Writing MIT, Auckland. His most recent book is Cassino: City of Martyrs(Huia 2010). He blogs at Manu Korero: Talking Birds.
After you've read and enjoyed Afastina, check out the sidebar for a cornucopia of poems chosen by our Tuesday Poets