Michal Ma’u: Taste of Fiji (2003)

Jack Ross, ed.: Spin 45 (March 2003)

Michal Ma’u, Taste of Fiji. New Zealand: Steele Roberts, 2002. 54pp. ISBN 1-877228-82-6.

Michal Ma’u: Taste of Fiji (2002)

… bottled squid
vibrations make them wriggle
Mr Choo adamant
as he rotates
definitely dead under lid [20]

This piece from ‘Shop shop at Mr Choo’s’ seems a fitting epigraph for Michal Ma’u’s collection of poems from Fiji. “Definitely dead under lid” – lists of fruits, of flowers – poems about gawping into the shops, the markets, the bures – look like a conventional travelogue, an outsider’s vision. But then one begins to look more carefully. Are these bones really dead, or are they moving? There are poems about marital infidelity (‘The Heat’ [35]), separation [8], suspicion (‘Frantic’ [16]); sixties key parties, drunken scenes, storms – even cannibals! The book’s sly, insinuating manner is best encapsulated by the glossary at the back. Running through the bland entries, one comes across “ceke = penis.” Where on earth did that come up? Leafing back through, one discovers, in the market scene on p.34: “prodded by large ceke / ignore with disdain” … I should hope so, too! Michal Ma’u has a definite gift for the arresting image, the offbeat anecdote. This sumptuously-produced book, lovingly illustrated with pen and ink sketches by Lynnette te Hira, is replete with hidden depths and subtleties.


Spin 45 (2003): 58-59.

[209 wds]

Spin 45 (2003)

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