Acclaimed Pacific poet gets Fulbright scholarship
A Pacific poet Karlo Mila has been awarded a writing residency in Hawai'i.
An acclaimed Pacific poet Karlo Mila is the recipient of the 2015 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency which will see her spend September to November in Hawaii developing two writing projects.
Dr Mila told Koroi Hawkins she will be working on a novel and a book of poetry, both of which are inspired by her post doctoral research 'Mana Moana.
This work collated and examined shared indigenous language, mythology, metaphor, proverbs, myths, and philosophies of health, well-being, spirit and reality from the Pacific.
KARLO MILA: It makes more sense if I begin with the post-doctoral research so that was a quest to find out what is archetypal in a Pacific context drawing on multiple Pacific languages and I researched 70 key concepts that we all share in at least 15 languages like Maui, like Hina or Sina to think about some of our archetypal characters and Tinilau or Tangaroa, but also looking at words like mana and whenua and tapu and noa and words to do with the sea and the sky and the landscape. So when I did that research I looked at how many languages these words were in, but also wrote commentaries on what each of them meant in different languages and provided translations but probably most importantly I researched proverbs, Tongan, Samoan, Cook Islands, Hawaiian, Maori, Cook Islands Maori, and Niuean proverbs that mapped on to each of these concepts. So this is for a non-fiction book and this kind of, a review of the evidence but what I'm looking forward to doing is bouncing off all that work creatively so both my novel and the poetry book will be writing poems that flow out of that fairly big piece of work.
KOROI HAWKINS: Sounds great. I don't want to put you on the spot here but do you have any, a little bit of poetry or verse that you would like to share with us?
KM: all right, so this poem that I'm going to read is called Oceania and it was dedicated to Epeli Hau'ofa who is a Tongan philosopher who talked about how we're all connected by the ocean so it's about a love for the ocean. Some days I've been on dry land for too long. My ache for ocean so great my eyes weep waves. My mouth mud flats popping with groping breath of crabs. My throat an estuary, salt crystallising on the tip of my tongue. My veins become rivers that flow straight out to sea. I call on the memory of water and I am starfish in sea buoyed by lung balloons and floating fat. I know the ocean she loves me, her continuous blue body holding even my weight.
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