We celebrate two new pocket poetry paperbacks, published in 2023 by flying island books / Cerberus Press.
te pāhikahikatanga/ incommensurabilty by Vaughan Rapatahana
This is a collection of Rapatahana’s poetry across several years, written in te reo Māori (with English language translations). This is a unique work of contemporary Māori language poetry, as well as emphasising throughout that the two languages are essentially incompatible and never fully translatable one into the other.
Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English, and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin, Romanian and Spanish. He earned a PhD from the University of Auckland with a thesis about Colin Wilson and writes extensively about Wilson.
Rapatahana is a critic of the agencies of English language proliferation and the consequent decimation of indigenous tongues, inaugurating and co-editing English language as Hydra and Why English? Confronting the Hydra (Multilingual Matters, Bristol, UK, 2012 and 2016). He is also a poet with nine collections published in Hong Kong SAR, Macau, Philippines, USA, England, France, India, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Atonement (UST Press, Manila) 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).
In July 2018, Vaughan participated in the Hauterives Literary Festival in France. In September 2019, he participated in the World Poetry Recital Night, in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia. In October 2019, he participated in the Poetry International Festival at The Southbank Centre, London. He also appeared at the Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia during August 2021.
Rapatahana is one of the few world authors who consistently writes in and is published in te reo Māori (the Māori language). It is his mission to continue to do so and to push for a far wider recognition of the need to write and to be published in this tongue.
Sea Skins by Sophia Wilson
Sea Skins explores the porous interfaces between personal, communal and environmental integrity. Slipping, sliding, going under and going overboard coexist with a determination to negotiate safe passage. Through the lenses of heritage, migration and ecological emergency, the collection shapeshifts and evolves to examine what is both cherished and damaged. ‘Sea skins’ are life’s fleeting flotsam and jetsam, teeth, tongue and bone amid dehumanising systems and alienating machines. They are word skins and survival skins, the diverse skins of sustainability and diplomacy, and ultimately, the tender under-skins at the heart of things.
‘A scintillating collection. The poems are accomplished in their forms and lyrical in their evocation. They speak of the body, memory, landscape, family dynamics, small moments and big concerns in a unique manner. Layers of the safe and familiar are peeled back to reveal deeper, emotionally charged and provocative truths. Throughout Wilson charges her work with an electric wordsmithing which makes each poem thrum.’ – Siobhan Harvey
‘This is an intelligent and brilliantly written book – from Wilson’s multi-lingual turn of phrase, her skillful weaving of scientific, medical, agricultural, and archeological discourse to the striking and formal structures and use of space on the page; we are, in turn, ravaged and incised to come out the other side breathless and also, wondrously, sail-filled.’ – Gail Ingram
‘Sophia’s careful, gentle but unflinching observations range over time and space, through language and culture. There are multi-layered themes – subtle contrasts between Australian and New Zealand landscapes and seascapes, the political contradictions of our time, the slow depredations of age and the anxieties of a world scarred by the awareness of impending catastrophe…[as well as] the navigation of ‘obscure and treacherous rocks / on which a body-ship / might wreck.’ Sea Skins is a collection with
a unique voice and integrity.’ – Victor Billot
‘Wilson sifts through our scars and crimes with intricate control and a fine-gauge eye, urgency and activism pressing on her tongue…Sea Skins palpates the threshold of crisis, from our ‘bleeding inner coastlines’ to our ‘mass extinctions,’ exposing ‘the real, bleak, airless deal[s] going down’ in lines that glimmer, strike and linger.’ – Tracey Slaughter
Listen to Sophia read two poems here:
Sophia Wilson grew up in unceded Anaiwan land in Australia and is currently based in Aotearoa with her partner and three daughters. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared widely in journals and anthologies and been recognised in awards including the Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, the Hippocrates Prize, the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize, and Reflex Fiction and National Flash Fiction Day Competitions. In 2022 she was joint-winner of the inaugural Flying Islands Poetry Prize for the manuscript En Cas D’Urgence, subsequently published as Sea Skins. More at https://sophiakwilson.wordpress.com/ @sophia.k.wilson
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