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Editorial Issue 1 – Tudei kei na Kaukawa

Resistance and Power

by Peter Sipeli
20 April 2022

Un-clothe

Take these recycled prayers

Take them in your trembling hands, and push them back into the temple of your mouth

Grind these brittle verses against your teeth, and feel their sharp claws press against your sacred tongue

These are not for us; these prayers are not tethered to this place

Its clawed fist shifts in cyclonic turmoil that never finds the shape of sleep

Spit it out in the sands, and let the ceaseless tides take it into the blue

Drag it across knifed coral edge, stretched wide between waves

Send it back to shore with melodies sung in a wordless new song

Take off those uniforms

Unshirt your coated frame

Unlace those boots, unhook your medallions and place your awards and steel books at the teeth of the river

Bring yourself here

Your brown as true as your mothers’ promise and your stride proud as your fathers’ backs that bent the winds

Those hands

The same hands planted the first seeds

The same bodies that journeyed a thousand pathways across liquid landscapes and earth pregnant with the promise of harvests

Of sons and daughters

Fluent in the language of the birds and the trees

With the ocean in us, waves crashing against our bellies

Our blood inked with stories of us and in us

And our gods etched on our fingernails and in the kiss of our smiles

Bring yourself here

an excerpt of the poem ‘The Sleeping Ancestors’, from a three-part anthology I wrote for my dad after his passing some years ago.

 

These are stories of community, power, culture, healing and, centrally, about resistance. These stories though they may come from diverse and different places across the world are rooted in the place we here in the Pacific islands know and are fighting for and against. Fighting to find ourselves again, to remember.

Amidst the new world language of universal digital uniformity and the old but present colonial narratives that shape the frames we live in, these stories tell of a kind of soft resistance, wars won in small fights. They are about memory and power, the kinds of resistance buried in our tongues and sitting waiting to be born as sentences in our hands.

Working as an editor on this edition makes one wonder how does one edit poetry if poetry is a kind of emotional language? How do you edit text that might be translated from a first language? I must work in the deep story frame of each of these different texts; I must find the vein that they’re communicating and work to elevate work; in the end my work here was really around structure, ensuring I added value to the work presented.

Such a pleasure; these poems and stories are still with me and may live in my head for a time …


Speak OUT! Issue 1


Illustration by Kama Ropate

About the Author

Peter Sipeli

Peter Sipeli has more than two decades of expertise in using and managing advocacy through artistic expression. He is an Arts Manager and supporter of the Spokenword arts movement in Fiji. Peter founded The Poetry Shop, Fiji six years ago and facilitates regular poetry events in Suva and poetry circle discussions with new and emerging […]

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