Vaughan Rapatahana commutes between Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English. He earned a Ph. D from the University of Auckland with a thesis about Colin Wilson and writes extensively about him. Rapatahana is a critic of the agencies of English language proliferation, inaugurating and co-editing English language as Hydra and Why English? Confronting the Hydra (2012 and 2016.)
He is a poet, with collections published in Hong Kong; Macau; Philippines; USA; England; France; India and New Zealand. Atonement was nominated for a National Book Award in Philippines (2016); he won the inaugural Proverse Poetry Prize the same year; and was included in Best New Zealand Poems (2017.)
He writes commentaries for Jacket2 (University of Pennsylvania): a 2015–2016 series and again during 2018-2019. In 2019 he edited an anthology of Waikato poets: Ngā Kupu Waikato.
His New Zealand Book Council Writers File
Vaughan Rapatahana presents Part 2 of his feature on New Zealand Asian women poets. He considers rage and alienation but stresses these women write so much more. The poets: Aiwa Pooamorn, Nina Powles, Vanessa Crofskey, Wen-Juenn Lee, Shasha Ali and Joanna Li .
You can read the full piece with poems here.
On Poetry Shelf:
You can read Vanessa’s poem ‘The Capital of My Mother’ here
You can hear Wen-Juenn read ‘Prologue’ here
You can hear Nina read ‘Mid-Autumn Moon Festival 2016’ here
in a few months, i will fly
away from these streets, out of
skin. in a few months, i will spend
two new years in vegetable markets
and watching lazy susans
spin our chipped china plates around.
from ‘Ancestors’ by Joanna Li
This is an excellent post (part one of two) by Vaughan on a cluster of Kiwi Asian women poets: Vanesssa Crofsky, Wen-Juenn Lee, Joanna Li, Renee Liang, Aiwa Pooamorn and Nina Powles.
Here is a taste of the introduction:
I was completing a chapter in the forthcoming 2019 book, English in the South, edited by Kyria Finardi and published by Eduel, Brazil, when I thought that I really must write a commentary regarding the influx of young Asian poets, who were born in Aotearoa New Zealand, or have arrived to live here for long periods. Why? Because my chapter is entitled Confronting the English language Hydra in Aotearoa New Zealand and bemoans the lack of recognition given to Asian languages in the country because of the domination of English language exponents and their monolingual expectations, and the concomitant definite lack of deference to Asian peoples per se — despite the fact they will be the second largest cultural demographic here by 2026.
This resolve further strengthened when I read poems in a chapbook provided me by Renee Liang, and entitled Tasting Words (2017) — in which there was considerable strong emotion displayed by these younger New Zealand women poets, of Asian heritage. The excellent Poetry Shelf postings, which Paula Green so wonderfully provides, further highlighted other poets, whom I had not been aware of, or insufficiently aware of. This is no arbitrarily superimposed grouping either, because their voices and verse are distinct. They need to be heard.
More than this, my own family, which is Asian (Chinese and Filipina), was forced to learn English — or not (!) when at school in both Hong Kong SAR and Philippines — while I have observed them somewhat caught between cultures at times. When they came to live in this, the skinny country of New Zealand, they were compelled to adjust. (Just as I tried to do when living in Brunei Darussalam, PR China, and Hong Kong SAR for so many years, in a sort of reverse diaspora. In fact, I spend considerable time in Asia nowadays and feel more comfortable there, by the way.)
Full post here
Poetry in Multicultural Oceania Book 2
edited by Vaughan Rapatahana, Essential Resource, 2018
‘mountains once roamed/ this land’ Apirana Taylor
Vaughan Rapatahana has edited a second collection of poems with associated activities to encourage the reading and writing of poetry and to further develop a student’s multicultural awareness. Vaughan is committed to drawing upon diverse poetry voices: Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika, Aboriginal Australian, Asian.
This issue includes: Mere Taito, Renee Liang, Apirana Taylor, Gregory Kan, Alan Jeffries, Simone Kaho, Paula Green, Michelle Cahill, Reihana Robinson, Alison Wong, Serie Barford, Michele Leggott, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Iain Britton, Makyla Curtis, Lionel Fogarty, Shasha Ali.
Each section includes the poem, a warm-up, focus on vocabulary, tips on reading aloud, consideration of the language and layout, questions to explore understandings and evaluations, followup suggestions.
The subjects are wide ranging but generally attached to identity issues.
I love the way this book will expose new and familiar poets to students and teachers and offer accessible and stimulating entries into poems. Bravo Vaughan for continuing to celebrate local poetry. This is an essential resource.
‘I am told that the wai of who/ is the water of our veins’ Makyla Curtis
Vaughan Rapatahana commutes between Hong Kong SAR, the Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published in several genres in Māori, English and other languages. His latest poetry collection is ternion (erbacce-press, Liverpool, England). Vaughan has a PhD in existential philosophy from the University of Auckland. Vaughan has written commentaries for Jacket2 (University of Pennsylvania), including a 2015–2016 series and a new series currently in progress.
Essential Resource page
Full piece here
Vaughan Rapatahana’s interview with Tusiata Avia – with a generous serving of poems – is unmissable. Here is just one question that got me musing:
Would you define yourself as a Kiwi poet having a perspective that is different than the ‘normal’/mainstream (i.e. generally, Pākehā New Zealander) one? If so, how so?
It’s a funny old thing defining myself. Certainly other people: reviewers, academics, and the like define me as different to the mainstream, but in my experience they like to use their pegs to stake me out in a certain shape. It would be disingenuous to say I wasn’t (different to the Pākehā mainstream) but the defining always makes me squirm. I get really uncomfortable with the binary of mainstream and other. I don’t like being other. Or othered.
My good friend Hinemoana Baker once said something along the lines of: I reserve the right to be what ever it is I am feeling at the time. I think she was quoting someone else — but it was in reference to being of mixed heritage. The point being, right at the moment, as I write this I don’t feel like claiming the Pasifika space, the Samoan space, the mixed heritage space or the Kiwi space. As a poet/ writer, there is a much broader space I can move about in.