Tusiata Avia

Fale Aitu | Spirit House


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May 2016

Shortlisted for the Poetry Award at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Ask the god to open the house of your chest
wide enough that your enemy may enter

ask aitu: lie down with me
my heart is open as a window

ask aitu: walk with me
my heart is younger than the sun

Tusiata Avia is an essential voice in New Zealand and Pasifika literature. In her fearless new collection, she weaves together the voices of the living and dead, the past and the present in poems that are confessional and confrontational, gentle and funny. Speaking from Samoa, Christchurch, Gaza and New York, she combines stories from myth and the everyday, never shying away from pain or wonder.

'Fale Aitu | Spirit House is a dreamworld that not only portrays strong and assured voices, but also explores the whispers of quieter ghosts. With Tusiata Avia’s brilliant language, this dreamworld becomes a landscape that is both quietly eerie and beautiful.' —Emma Shi, Booksellers NZ

'Truly an international poet with an indigenous Pacifika frame of reference, in Fale Aitu | Spirit House, Avia writes with a visceral, political, spare and passionate authority of someone who has seen the world.' —Terese Svoboda, The Common 

'an urgent, politicised collection, which finds eloquent ways to dramatise and speak out against horrors, injustices and abuses, both domestic and public. The poems are tough, sensuous, often unnerving. Prose poems, pantoums, short lyrics, list poems, hieratic invocations: the passionate voice holds all these together. We teleport between geographies and cultures, Samoa to Christchurch, Gaza to New York. The world we think we know is constantly made strange, yet disconcertingly familiar; the unfamiliar seems normal, close to home.' —Judges' comments, 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

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