Jack Ross, ed.: Spin 45 (March 2003)
Michal Ma’u, Taste of Fiji. New Zealand: Steele Roberts, 2002. 54pp. ISBN 1-877228-82-6.
… bottled squid
vibrations make them wriggle
Mr Choo adamant
as he rotates
definitely dead under lid 
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’ ), separation , suspicion (‘Frantic’ ); 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.