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281 Karangahape Rd Auckland

Alice Te Punga Somerville

Always Italicise: How to Write while Colonised


A first book of poetry from acclaimed Māori writer and scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville.

Shrink-wrapped, vacuum-packed, disassembled, sold for parts,
butt of jokes, scapegoats, too this for that, too that for this,
gravy trains, too angry, special treatment, let it go . . .

‘Always italicise foreign words’, a friend of the author was advised. In her first book of poetry, Māori scholar and poet Alice Te Punga Somerville does just that. In wit and anger, sadness and aroha, she reflects on ‘how to write while colonised’ – how to write in English as a Māori writer; how to trace links between Aotearoa and wider Pacific, Indigenous and colonial worlds; how to be the only Māori person in a workplace; and how – and why – to do the mahi anyway.

I wanted to pick up baby, and I wanted to pick a fight:
The eternal Waitangi Day dilemma.