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Poet’s latest verses a journey of loss and triumph

30 October 2013

Poet’s latest verses a journey of loss and triumph

Poet Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh’s second book of poetry Dark Sparring, complete with a CD of the verses put to music by Tim Page and recorded in the University of Auckland’s Arts faculty studios, will be launched this Friday.

In Dark Sparring, Selina, a lecturer in Pasifika Literature and Creative Writing at the University’s Department of English, combats family loss with all the techniques of poetry and Muay Thai kickboxing at her disposal.

Her poems cover her mother’s diagnosis with cancer and the long journey out the other side of her illness. Along the way, Selina shows us other parts of her world: scenes from Matiatia to Orapiu to Apia; classroom politics; the importance of leadership; and the reasons New Zealand is also a ‘lucky’ country.

"They might seem like distinct themes but they speak to each other in subtle ways. I enjoy juxtaposing unlikely images, actions and emotions” Selina says.

She creates her poems by trying to write every day and recording ideas and observations as she comes across them. She writes on her morning and evening ferry commute to her home on Waiheke Island and also records the odd spontaneous line on her phone while walking.

"If I don't record it on the spot, I feel that I may lose it. Later on I make time to flesh out the line,” she says

“You’ve just got to be aware of moments and you’ve got to be a good observer and you’ve got to prioritise time out with yourself to make those observations.

"It's about being an archivist. If you're waiting for a golden time of inspiration you're going to miss it.”

Selina is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English, and French descent. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland and is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pasifika literature.

Her first collection, the bestselling Fast Talking PI, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. She represented Tuvalu at the 2012 London Olympics Poetry Parnassus, her work has been translated into Ukrainian and Spanish and has appeared in numerous forms in schools, museums, parks, billboards, print and online literary journals.

The book will be launched at 5.30pm this Friday November 1 by Professor Emeritus Albert Wendt at the Gus Fisher Gallery in Shortland Street. A second launch, complete with Muay Thai kickboxing demonstrations, will be held at Duan Marshall’s kickboxing gym on Waiheke Island on Saturday November 16.


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