Book of the Month Fale_Aitu_Spirit_House

Published on May 16th, 2016 | by Booknotes Administrator


Book of the Month: Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avia

Our May Book of the Month is Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avia, published by Victoria University Press.

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.

About Tusiata

Tusiata Avia was born in Christchurch in 1966, of Samoan descent. She is an acclaimed poet, performer and children’s book writer. Her previous poetry collections are Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (VUP, 2004; also staged as a one-woman theatre show around the world from 2002–2008) and Bloodclot (VUP, 2009).

tusiata-web-2016-photo-by-phantomTusiata 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 also the 2013 recipient of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award. She teaches creative writing and performing arts at Manukau Institute of Technology.

“I think Tusiata Avia is one of the most exciting new writers to have come along in recent years. Her work does what the work of major writers is supposed to do: it enlarges the way you see the world.” – Bill Manhire

“I would personally bet that this is a voice, and an artist, which we are all likely to hear a lot more from in the future.” – Kate Camp



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

pearl shell
whale tooth
human hair

ask aitu: shuck off your clothes
at this edge of ocean and like a diver cut—

here is the place where I will keep you
here is the place where I will keep you.


Image credit: Tusiata Avia (2016, Hayley Theyers Photography)
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