Fale Aitu: Spirit House
What Avia’s poems sometimes lack in subtlety they certainly make up for in vigour. Muscular, energetic, angry, mocking, sometimes bitter but shot through with sudden humour, the poems confront social, sexual, racial and political injustice, rape, trauma and the insecurity of feeling home to be a place of threat. Clearly written for performance, Avia draws on Samoan tradition for the incantatory form of many of these poems. Sometimes the form outweighs or overly dictates the content, flattening the effect, and sometimes it is the effect.
Ask the god to open the house of your chest
wide enough that your enemy may enter
ask aitu: lie down with me
my heart is open as a window
ask aitu: walk with me
my heart is younger than the sun
Tusiata Avia is an essential voice in New Zealand and Pasifika literature. In her fearless new collection, she weaves together the voices of the living and dead, the past and the present in poems that are confessional and confrontational, gentle and funny. Speaking from Samoa, Christchurch, Gaza and New York, she combines stories from myth and the everyday, never shying away from pain or wonder.
Poetry Finalist - Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2017.
Tusiata Avia is an acclaimed poet and performer of her own work. Her stage show, also titled, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, premiered in 2002 and has since been shown throughout New Zealand and internationally. Her second collection of poetry, Bloodclot, was published in 2009. In 2005 she held the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency at the University of Hawai'i and in 2010 she held the Ursula Bethall Writer's Residency at Canterbury University. Her work has been anthologised and published in numerous books and journals in New Zealand and overseas. In 2013 she was awarded the Janet Frame Literary Trust award.