Tag Archives: spring season

Poetry Shelf Spring Season’s poetry fans: Gina Cole picks Selina Tusitala Marsh

In Creative Writing Class

the pākehā man
calls the kailoma Fijian woman
the Māori woman
and the ‘afakasi Samoan woman
because they have the experience
of being doubly oppressed
at a time when they qualify
for certain scholarships
when their demographic
is fashionable and interesting
their life experiences
make their writing more convincing
their stories are rich and deep
hot chocolatey and steamy
his are staid, North Shore-ish
lukewarmish gumboot tea

the los atrevido
wait for him to finish
his first world problems
in their global village
their serpent tongues aim
for the space above his collar
they fire simultaneously
no one even hears him holler

©Selina Tusitala Marsh from Tightrope (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2017)




Note from Gina: I love this poem because I have attended many creative writing classes. I am also a kailoma Fijian woman, and I have been in a creative writing class with Selina. In most writing classes that I have attended, I have been one of a minority of Māori and Pasifika writers in the class. I love how the title reads as a play on each word in all their different meanings, especially “class”. I love the last stanza and the description of the women as “los atrevido”. I had to look up what that meant. I found that it translates as – the daring, the badass, the bold. I love that daring in the poem, and that Selina is the new daring, badass, bold Poet Laureate for Aotearoa.

Gina Cole is of Fijian, Scottish and Welsh descent. She lives in Auckland. She writes fiction and poetry. She is a Barrister specialising in Family Law and has a Master of Creative Writing from Auckland University. In 2016, Huia Publishers published Gina’s debut book of short stories Black Ice Matter. Black Ice Matter won the 2017 Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English and French descent. She was the First Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English at the University of Auckland where she currently is an Associate Professor. Her first collection, Fast Talkin’ PI, won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry in 2010. As Commonwealth Poet (2016) she composed and performed a poem for the Queen at Westminster Abbey. She is New Zealand’s current Poet Laureate.

Poetry Shelf Spring Season -poetry fans make picks




This year I have hosted four seasons on Poetry Shelf, and I am tempted to do it again next year with four new themes.

For Spring Season 2017, I invited poetry fans from diverse fields to pick a New Zealand poem they loved and write a brief note about it.


As I am reading my way through New Zealand women’s poetry for my big book, I keep rediscovering poems that strike me in new ways and I immediately want to share with the world. I am sitting in my kitchen, and I just shout out to the bush: This is so skin-pricklingly GOOD!

I have just read my way through Jenny Bornholdt’s collections and found my old favourites, poems like ‘The Rocky Shore,’ still resonate so surely. At the moment, I am rereading Emma Neale, and her very best poems are extraordinary occasions that draw upon the wide reach of the world along with the more intimate alcoves of mother and poet.

What difference does a poem make in a disgruntled world precariously on edge? I don’t know! I just know that it gives voice to the ordinary and to the astonishing. You can read a poem with a cup of tea like a kick-start gingernut – and it is the most wonderfully satisfying ritual.

Thanks to all the poets and publishers who gave permission and to all the poetry fans who picked the poems and wrote the notes.

Over the next two weeks I am posting 16 poems.