Monday, October 19, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Making Starfish, by Serie Barford

Making Starfish

to the untrained eye
starfish have no front or back

but village women know better
these days they cut stencils
from discarded x-ray plates

create whole beds of starfish
on bark cloth and cotton sheets

when you cut x-rays
they utter a peculiar cry

but starfish split silently
make more of themselves
to fill up empty spaces

something the lonely could do

- Serie Barford, published in Tapa Talk (Huia Publishers, 2007)

It is that time of year again when Canterbury poets and poet lovers enjoy the Canterbury Poets' Collective spring reading series, stretching over more than two months. One of this year's guest readers' was Serie Barford, whose work I enjoyed very much.

Serie is a poet and short story writer with a strong interest in performance poetry. She was born in Aotearoa/New Zealand to a German Samoan mother and palagi father. She has published three collections of poetry (with another book forthcoming) and in 2011 was awarded the Seresin Landfall Residency. A much fuller bio is found on the New Zealand Book Council website, which I have linked to above. The collection "Tapa Talk" was inspired by her time on the mainland and various other islands of New Caledonia, along with poems based on her Samoan background. Serie says:

In Samoa the templates cut from x-rays were used for design making on siapo (tapa cloth). They don't do tivaevae but they do make fala su'i, a kind of bedpread that's made by emboidering pandanus mats with wool. My next book (Entangled Islands) is based on this concept and each emboidered panel is metaphorically based on a cluster of poems and short stoies.

Entangled Islands is published by Anahera Press and is due out in December of this year.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Tuesday Poem: The Girl Who Sings Islands

The Girl Who Sings Islands

The girl who sings islands stands
on the branch of an apple tree
grasping the one above.
She sings, and small shoals
of fish swim from her mouth,
slip into the river and head for the sea.
She sings and each syllable
becomes coral, becomes pearl,
becomes a small chain of atolls
strung across the Pacific.

The girl who sings islands
has a white dress, its broderie hem
a froth of white foam washing
around her shores. She sings,
and the apple tree breaks into blooms
of frangipani, tiare, hibiscus.

The girl who sings islands
swings her foot back and forth,
back and forth, dipping into the air
as a paddle dips into the waves.
She propels her waka
on its long ocean journey
sings and paddles, sings and paddles
paddles and sings.


copyright Catherine Fitchett

I have been a bit slow in organising permissions and haven't posted a Tuesday Poem for a few weeks, so thought I would post one of my own this week. This poem was placed third in the 2015 Poems in the Waiting Room competition and appeared in their Winter Poetry Card.

The girl in the poem was a young girl I used to watch on my walks home from work. She was singing and playing much as described,in a language I thought to be one of the Pasifika tongues, although obviously I added an element of fantasy to the poem.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.