Tusiata Avia

Big Fat Brown Bitch

210mm x 160mm
Publication date:
9 November 2023

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Longlisted for the 2024 Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry

NZ Listener Best Books of 2023

Admire my big fat brown body, bitches!
Admire it!

The Big Fat Brown Bitch runs, sleeps, cries, laughs, splits open. She is sitting in a garage in South Auckland with her two brothers and discussing the majestic architecture of atoms. She is playing an audio book of The Power of Positive Thinking at herself. She is jumping over the lazy dog. She is lying face down in the mud and doing an apology on behalf of us all. She is receiving an election-year visit and a death threat. She is strapped to the cross. She is turning into a werewolf. The Big Fat Brown Bitch is coming for you.

Tusiata Avia, author of Ockham-award-winning The Savage Coloniser Book, returns with a brilliant and eviscerating work. These are poems of defiance, confrontation, consolation, satire, sorrow and fury.

'Original, often ironical, self-critical, clear as a bell in style and, amazingly, very funny in the midst of real rage.' —NZ Listener

'Avia is a bold, uncompromising artist with a sharp intelligence and caustic wit: her poetry swaggers and her poetry sears. . . . The collection’s title is not a slur but a sign of her power, now and through the ages.' —Paula Morris, Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Books

'A book of poetry as angry as it is beautiful, a study on hate as much as it is a circling of the wound with sea-salt kisses (think diving into the wreck a la Adrienne Rich, but very brown.) . . . This poet is in expert control. It’s a raw and hard-won wisdom between the lines, a sense of looking back over her battles and her treasures: a masterpiece of radical self-acceptance.' —Courtenay Sina Meredith, PMN

'Tusiata Avia is not mucking around . . . Big Fat Brown Bitch illustrates the confidence of a poet at the height of her powers.' —Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times

Praise for The Savage Coloniser Book

‘Savage is as savage does. And we’re all implicated. Avia breaks the colonial lens wide open. We peer through its poetic shards and see a savage world – outside, inside. With characteristic savage and stylish wit, Avia holds the word-blade to our necks and presses with a relentless grace. At the end, you’ll feel your pulse anew.’ —Selina Tusitala Marsh

‘A welcome autopsy of colonisers in past and present times, penned with a scalpel’s precision, the inspection of parts, minced down to the floor. Sit in your blood-splattered apron and feel as the verdict is read.' —Ali Cobby Eckermann

‘Tusiata Avia’s poetry . . . is a full-body plunge in winter seas. It’s breathtaking, skin tingling and teeth rattling. I feel alive. . . . Exhilaration, pain, vulnerability, joy, cheeky confidence and acknowledgement. But what I don’t feel is lonely.’ —Nafanua Kersel, The Hook

Tusiata Avia’s previous poetry collections are Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (2004; also staged as a theatre show), Bloodclot (2009), the Ockham-shortlisted Fale Aitu | Spirit House (2016), and the Ockham-award-winning The Savage Coloniser Book (2020). Tusiata has held the Fulbright Pacific Writer’s Fellowship at the University of Hawai‘i in 2005 and the Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at University of Canterbury in 2010. She was the 2013 recipient of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award, and in 2020 was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to poetry and the arts. In 2023 she was honoured with a Distinguished Alumni Award at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Cover artwork: Tui Emma Gillies, tapa cloth with Woman on the Cross 2022AD., Instagram tuiemmagilliesartist

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