how many disasters can this day hold?
How many tortures, tears, bombs, babies?
How many promises of love can burn away like letters we are
Unwilling to write?
The well-spring of Tusiata Avia’s The New Adventures of Nafanua, Samoan Goddess of War is a dynamic voice that combines playful vigour with a committed social conscience. The collection begins with Nafanua, Samoan goddess of war experiencing herself in the cultural dysfunction of America, the skilfully crafted satirical verse relaying her unusual forays and reminiscences. “The richest street in the world does not see her, the babel floats over her head.”
Following this, Avia offers a more personally focused series of poems that bravely articulate experiences of birth, childhood, mother-daughter and father-daughter relationships. Unforgettable is the poignant tribute to her dying father who was once “as big as the slaughter-house” but now, “This new body of yours, the weight of the lightest ash /the empty space you are making for yourself.” Ultimately, contemplation of the deeply personal leads Avia to a universal imagination whereby, “we all become each other in the end.”