Reihana Robinson

Puna Wai KoreroPuna Wai Kōrero: An Anthology of Māori Poetry in English
Edited by Reina Whaitiri & Robert Sullivan

In this pioneering anthology, two leading Māori poets and scholars collect together many Māori poetic voices in English and let flow a wellspring of poetry.

From revered established writers as well as exciting new voices, the poems in Puna Wai Kōrero offer a broad picture of Māori poetry in English. The voices are many and diverse: confident, angry, traditional, respectful, experimental, despairing and full of hope, expressing a range of poetic techniques and the full scope of what it is to be Māori.

The anthology collects work from the many iwi and hapū of Aotearoa as well as Māori living in Australia and around the world, featuring the work of Hone Tuwhare, J. C. Sturm, Trixie Te Arama Menzies, Keri Hulme, Apirana Taylor, Roma Pōtiki, Hinemoana Baker, Tracey Tawhiao and others – as well as writers better known for forms other than poetry such as Witi Ihimaera, Paula Morris and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku. Short biographies are given for each poet, and the introduction, glossary and poem dates will make this taonga of Māori poetry especially useful in schools and other learning institutions.

From Rangi Faith’s ‘Karakia to a silent island’ to Ben Brown claiming back Baxter’s ‘Maori Jesus’, Phil Kawana’s ‘Scenes from a council tenancy’ and Reihana Robinson’s rewrites of the Rona and the moon legend, Tuwhare’s lines on a snail shell and Jacq Carter’s lines on the Ōmaru River, there is much diversity in this kete. There are poems from all walks of life and using different modes of writing, laments for koro and hopes for mokopuna, celebrations of the land and anger at its abuse, retellings of myth and reclamations of history.

From the chanted songs and oratory of a traditional culture, to engagement with the English language in the nineteenth century, and on into the cultural revival of the late twentieth century, Māori have always been deeply engaged with poetic forms, and Puna Wai Kōrero showcases that deep whakapapa and celebrates its current strength.

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