Selina Tusitala Marsh
New Zealand


white for blackmail
on the yellow
Post-It note
stuck to the notice
board since April
wh    te

its ‘I’ in the middle
not at the end
as in ‘afakasi

not no where
as in Samoa

but in the middle
white-washing the space
in between the wh y
and the te lling

Milner’s Whites

From the Samoan Side

pa‘e is a verb
means bleach
‘ua ~ mānaia lana tāga i le la
her washing is ~ing well in the sun

pa‘epa‘e is a verb
an adjective too 
its plural is papa‘e
as in
(Be) pale, light-coloured
‘Ua tu‘ua‘i le to ‘oto‘o ~
It was left to the ~ (orator’s) staff
that is
belonging to an inexperienced orator
a way of saying that s/he has failed
(for want of sufficient maturity and experience).


(Be) white
‘E ~ e pei ‘o le u‘a : It is as ~ as bark-cloth
Sā ‘ofu ~ le teina : The girl was dressed in white

fa‘apa‘epa‘e is a verb
it means whitewash (with lime)
as in
~ le fale : ~ the house

pa‘epa‘emā is a verb
an  adjective too
as in
(Be) snow-white
E ~ le namu : Coral lime is ~.

From the English Side

White is an adjective
as in hair
as in surf
as in albino : tetea ;
light in colour of plants - tea ;
of hair or head : sinā ; (pure ~, dazzling ~): sinasina

13 Dos and Don’ts When Visiting Whiteland as Recommended by Lonely Planet

Do: Understand your impact on white
I have bath salts from a basalt beach courtesy of the Goteburg Book Fair

Do: Use common sense with white
The Icelandic academic speaks a different body language, he’s standing a too little close

Do: Take the white seriously
Reykjavik is white

Do: Dress appropriately and pack serious white gear
Iceland has the world’s northernmost capital

Do: Plan ahead
You’d be lucky to Google Earth it now and see it all white, as it used to be

Do: If driving, do stick to appropriate roads
Especially around Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Do: Take a white tour
Amphibious bus blurs, snowmobile slurs

Do: White responsibly and sustainably
Do you think you could bury the poem in a glacier?

Do: Appreciate the whitelanders
I’ll come next November to dig it up

Do expect to remove your whites indoors
They used to dig a hole in the earth, pour in the batter, and a few hours later, bread!

Do always white with soap before taking a dip
Should we put the poem in the batter and watch the words rise through the earth?

Do drink the white water
I gift you a book from my sovereign state

Do be white and have a laugh
Stand a little closer, you’re not translating very well

Black White Desiring

After all the Post Colonial Theory
Oceanic Literary Study
Pacific Epistemology
Global Indigenous Research Methodology
Imperial Geo-Political Cartography
Capitalist Topography
Racist Iconography
Sexist Typography
Black Skin  / White Mask Psychology
Margin / Centre Ontology
Ethno-Poetic Ethnography
MLA or APA Bibliography?

I watch The Vampire Diaries
Blood sucking, triangulating tyrannies
Love lorned, love lost, love lust diarizing
Fang-bangers, wolf-jammers conspiring

Scholarly and pop culture re-wiring
After a day of territorial indigenizing

It’s all a transfusion of desiring

POPO (People of the Pacific Ocean)

plays the white game black
the prayerhouse, the prayerhouse - where everyone gets a pardon!

Black Saturday, Bloody Sunday
The over-sized neon bottle-top blinks

I am not your typical islander
So fuck you and your stereotypes

Red Comb (for Lonnie Hutchinson)

ruby-red steel comb
tip-toeing on its teeth

flowering blooming arseholes
black pearl redding

laughing in relief
captive nature

turns provocateur
in white spaces-in-between

Biography Selina Tusitala Marsh
Selina Tusitala Marsh has two award-winning collections of poetry, Fast Talking PI (2009) and Dark Sparring (2013) published by AUP.  She is a poet-scholar and teaches in Pacific Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Auckland. Her critical and creative work focuses on giving voice to Pasifika communities. She a Judge for the NZ Ockham Book Awards: Poetry (2016), and is completing a book on 15 First Wave Oceanic Women Poets (1974-2016).  Her best poems are called Javan, Micah, and Davey (her sons).

The Island - Rosie Whinray - 2015