Sunday, July 5, 2020

Writers' Pantry # 27: We're Halfway There!

Hello Word Artists and Admirers! We’re just a little over the half-way mark for 2020. I am slightly torn between breathing a sigh of relief or a groan of trepidation, but I am glad that despite the madness that has been this year, there’s always been a bit of space for writing.

On to the house keeping:

  • Rosemary shines a spotlight on Maori poets with this week’s Wild Fridays feature
  • Magaly is interested in history, so for the next Weekly Scribblings, she would like us to write poetry or prose inspired by the phrase, “Things were different back then”. Feel free to use the words literally or metaphorically.  

The floor is now ready for you to share your wonderful word offerings--old or new, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose. Just remember to keep your prose pieces to 369 words or fewer. One entry per person please.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Wild Fridays #26: Thought Provokers

Maori Lives Matter Too

A comment from Kim in last Friday’s post made me realise that, while I know about racial inequalities in Australia from living here, and in America from the news, I was totally ignorant about the situation in our sister ‘Down Under’ country (just ‘across the ditch’ as we sometimes say) New Zealand. I am guessing that many of you in other countries may be similarly ignorant, and similarly interested in becoming more aware.

I sought some enlightenment from Marja, who participates here (her blog is A dutch corner in New Zealand); and also from a friend’s daughter who was brought up in New Zealand and now lives, works and raises her own children there. They guided me to the poems on racial issues which I’m sharing with you today – the words of Maori authors, who are obviously the best people from whom to learn their point of view.

I was blown away by this one, by Whiti Ihimaera (author of Whale Rider, which was made into a beautiful movie). What an amazing blend of sardonic humour and controlled ferocity!

Dinner with the Cannibal

Of course I should have realized, at dinner
That he would be a man of special tastes
His mordant wit and intellect proclaimed him bon vivant
I suppose I was bedazzled by it all
The chandelier, the red roses like stigmata
Too flattered by the invitation
To notice that the table was laid only for hors d'oeuvres

Read more…

Like Australia (and indeed the whole of America) New Zealand is a colonised country. When I asked my friend’s daughter what (if anything) the indigenous Maori people complain of from Pakeha (white) New Zealanders, she said:

"Māori" as a collective noun [coined by the Maori themselves] was invented to differentiate the indigenous people living in Aotearoa from the Europeans who arrived on their shores. They were and are a tribal people, with much difference between. I'm not sure it's possible therefore to say what Māori want or complain of. I certainly wouldn't feel entitled to do so.

But we can all speak about what Māori reasonably expected to happen following the promises made, misunderstood, and broken, in Te Tiriti o Waitangi - the Treaty of Waitangi. Which were multiple, in fact.

You can read more about the Treaty here.

It seems to me (albeit mine is still a fairly uneducated opinion) that the Cannibal poem addresses just such issues.

My friend’s daughter also told me:

Māori are disproportionately negatively represented in family violence, child poverty, infant mortality, suicide, health and education achievement statistics. Māori are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Such disproportion is a clear sign of inequality and disadvantage. Those things are expressed actively, but begin with attitude.

A poem by Hone Tuwhare (1922-2008) – described variously as ‘New Zealand’s most distinguished Maori poet writing English’ or 'New Zealand's pre-eminent Maori poet' – addresses attitude, laying it bare:

A Pakeha Friend tells a Maori Joke

I can’t explain why I can’t resist listening
to your fund of racist jokes. This one’s about the
Maoris, right? I ready myself for it; my eyes lit
up and creasing.

I mean, it’s got nothing whatever to do with
me, personally. Some other Maori is copping it, not
Your eyes begin to water. You are laughing long
before you come to the end of the joke. Well hell,
I can’t help myself either. There’s a nudging kind
of connivance when I join you in the laughing.

But I think – for me at such times, laughing
becomes the closest thing to crying; and it is begin-
ning to worry me just as if I’d caught clap or V.D.

Ever had clap, or V.D.? I say.
Nothin’ to it, old son, you say. You have to
cop it a few times before you can call yourself a man.
A few shots of penicillin, and you’re okay again.

I dunno. I want to walk away. Go tell your
racist jokes to someone else. You’re a heapa shit, man.
(Year of the Dog, 34).

 And finally, one about stereotypes, from a young slam poet, Sheldon Rua:  

Here is the text of his poem:

I am Māori
Wait, but I’m supposed to be a hori! Right?
Holes in my Warehouse shoes
Sleeves covered in the fact that I don’t have tissues
Or Can’t afford tissues.
I’m supposed to be illiterate right?
Uneducated gangster always looking for a fight
I aspire to be nothing more than a high school
Because I
Was never going to university
Or maybe I’m just too proud
To admit that I need help
To get to university
Or to graduation
Or to year 13
Or my next English class
And apparently my flaws in education is a
“home thing”
So when I don’t achieve it’s a “home thing”
When I play up in class it’s a “home thing”
When I go to school without food and starve
It’s a “home thing”
But a house is not a home
And unfortunately I occupy a house
It’s not even a home
But Dad’s there… drunk
And Mum’s stoned
The only thing in my cupboard is dust but you
still tell me to cook the man some eggs
“Don’t moan or I’ll give you something to
moan about”
Ehara au I te rangatahi Māori
Rite ki ratou nanakia ana
So yeah, I am a Māori
But I am unfamiliar to hollow homes
I am unfamiliar to dusty cupboards and empty
Unfamiliar to the pain which stains the eyes of
my people like paint
Black, and blue
Which stains the minds of my people into thinking that
Living like this is something we choose

These stains may remain but
They don’t have to
My tama I’m talking to you
These stains may remain but they never, ever,
have to
My wahine I am talking to you
And I hope this gets through
You can resent me now
Say that I don’t know what the hell I am talking
Because of where I live and what I do
And maybe I haven’t experienced life like you
And maybe your shoes are a bit too big for me
But in reality
I’m a Māori
The same as you
And yeah I realise this reality is of some not all
But regardless of your reality
People will still throw in the same box as the
Māori next door
Regardless of your reality
You can go from broken bones to broken boxes
You can go from broken homes to broken
I have proof
I still see the snotty nosed Māori girl in my
mother’s eyes
She lives just down the road
Only this time she looks grown
She learnt to handle her own
Whilst steering the handlebars of my life she helped build
Solid like stone
I put my mother on a pedestal
For showing me how to pedal through pitiful
points of view of my people
And as I cycle my way through cycles of cynicism
I’ve noticed
That stereotypes, they don’t change
But people do
Tangata Whenua I pray that is you


"Hori" is slang, a derogatory term for a person of Māori descent.

Ehara au I te rangatahi Māori     I'm not a Māori teenager
Rite ki ratou nanakia ana     They are just as cruel

tama     that's right

wahine      women

Tangata Whenua      People of the Land

Amene     Amen

I'm very grateful to both Marja and my friend's daughter for all the help.

Material shared here is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors. The poem by Hone Tuwhare is available online from a legitimate source for free download, and the poem by Sheldon Rua has been widely disseminated on facebook, so I felt free to use them in their entirety.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Weekly Scribblings #26: Pavement

"Under the pavement the dirt is dreaming of grass." — Wendell Berry
Pavement. A seemingly mundane, commonly used word. I mean what could possibly be interesting about a raised, paved or asphalted pathway for pedestrians at a side of the road unless... unless it's a phrase? 

                                                           Chasing Pavements

Should I give up
Or should I just keep chasing pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere
Or would it be a waste?
Even If I knew my place should I leave it there?
Should I give up
Or should I just keep chasing pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere (full song HERE
"Stand on the highest pavement of the stair- Lean on a garden urn- Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair." — T.S. Eliot. 
"Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It's everyone's, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet." — Barbara Kingsolver. 
"On the pavement of my trampled soul the steps of madmen weave the prints of rude crude words." — Vladimir Mayakovsky.  
(all images above have been borrowed from Pixabay)

Our challenge today is to write while inspired by pavement. You can draw inspiration from the music video by Adele and the quotes that I have shared with you above. Use it as a metaphor, a phrase, an idiom or even as imagery. Let your muse decide which direction it wants to go into. 

We at Poets and Storytellers United offer the chance to share both poetry and prose (i.e. stories, essays, articles) the prompt will remain open until next Wednesday. Also, if you opt to write prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer.

Good luck composing your masterpieces! I look forward to reading what you come up with. And lastly, please visit and comment on your fellow writers. Have fun!💘