SemCW: Contemporary Pacific Poetry & Poetics (CW/AP)

This course will focus on
the major themes, forms, and movements of contemporary indigenous Pacific
poetry and poetics. We will map the poetic genealogies of Oceania, Polynesia,
Melanesia, Micronesia, and the global Pacific diaspora. We will examine the
work within its historical, cultural, political, and theoretical contexts, as
well as within its oral, visual, textual, and performative origins. In
addition, we will note connections and disconnections between contemporary
poetic practice (including spoken word, amplified, visual, and video poetry),
ancestral oral literatures, and customary aesthetics (such as hula, tapa,
tatau, waka, carving, and architecture). Lastly, we will explore the
“extrapoetic” dimensions of Pacific poetry and how it moves into community,
activist, and public realms.




Assignments will include
close reading, listening, and viewing of texts, audio, and video. We will write
reader responses, poem analyses, book reviews, and one full-length, publishable
essay. As writers, we will create our own original textual and visual poetry,
one audio poem, and one video poem. We will also interview one living Pacific
poet, in addition to planing and executing one “community-engaged”
poetic project during the semester.


There will be a professionalization
element to this course related to submissions, publications, editing, teaching,
conferences, performance, and residencies.


For the creative writers,
there will be an optional creative writing workshop outside of class time.


Required Texts (Subject to Change and Availability)


Brandy Nālani McDougall The Salt Wind Ka Makani Paʻikai

Sage Uʻilani Takehiro Honua

Haunani Kay-Trask Night is a Sharkskin Drum

Emelihter Kihleng My Urohs

Craig Santos Perez from unincorporated territory [saina]

Selina Tusitala March Fast Talking PI

Albert Wendt The Adventures of Vela

Robert Sullivan Star Waka

Karlo Mila Dream Fish Floating

Sia Figiel, To a Young Artist in Contemplation


Required Audio Texts (Subject to Change and


Electric Laulau




Additional readings will be
provided by the instructor in photocopied or PDF form. This may include poetry
by Jully Makini, Taracisius Kabutaulaka (Solomon Islands), Grace Molisa
(Vanuatu), Cresentia Koya, Daren Kamali (Fiji), Caroline Sinavaiana, Grace
Taylor, and Andrew Vai (Samoa), Konai Helu Thaman, Epeli Hau‘ofa (Tonga) Dana
Naone Hall, Joe Balaz, Mahealani Perez-Wendt, kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui, Noʻu
Revilla, David Kealiʻi, Jamaica Osorio, and Kai Gaspar (Hawai‘i), Hone Tuwhare,
Alice Te Punga Somerville, Reina Whaitiri, Hinemoana Baker (Aotearoa) John Pule
(Niue), Alistair Campbell (Cook Islands), Hermana Ramarui, Canisius Filibert,
Val Sengebau (Belau), Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (Marshalls), Teresia Teaiwa
(Kiribati), Cecilia Perez, Anne Perez Hattori, Kisha Borja-Quichocho, Jay
Pascua, Melvin Won Pat-Boja, Keith Camacho, Michael Lujan Bevacqua, Lehua
Taitano, Clarissa Mendiola, Peter Onedera (Guahan). Lastly, we will also read
selection in translation from Varua Tupu:
New Writing from French Polynesia


We will read scholarship by
the major critics in the field of Pacific poetics: Richard Hamasaki, Nigel
Krauth, Albert Wendt, Subramani, Michelle Keown, Paul Sharrad, Sina Va’ai,
Selina Tusitala Marsh, Alice Te Punga Sumerville, Susan Najita, K.O. Arvidson,
Peggy Dunlop, Norman Simms, Paul Lyons, Nicholas Goetzfridt, Rob Wilson,
Houston Wood, Haunani-Kay Trask, Steven Winduo, Chadwick Allen, kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui,
and Brandy N
ālani McDougall. We will discuss
the major trends of the scholarship—such as postcolonialism, feminism,
hybridity theory, cultural essentialism, post-structuralism, indigenism, trauma
theory, etc—as we work on our own critical essays.


Recommended for Further Reading/Listening


Wayne Westlake Westlake: Poems by Wayne Kaumualii Westlake

Dan Taulapapa McMullin Coconut Milk

Caroline Sinavaiana Alchemies of Distance

Daren Kamali Tales, Poems, and Songs from the Underwater

Courtney Sina Meredith Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick

Hinemoana Baker Matuhi Needle

Serie Barford Tapa Talk

Teresia Teaiwa I Can See Fiji(audio)