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281 Karangahape Rd Auckland

Simone Kaho



Content warning: This book involves discussion of sexual violence, assault, trauma, PTSD and self-harm. HEAL! is Tongan-Pakeha author Simone Kaho's second poetry book. HEAL! close tracks multiple points of trauma, sexual violence, violation of boundaries in the workplace, at community service, as a child, and ever-present colonial dominance. How it infiltrates and seeps into everything, so it's imperceptible when it started, and if you look closely enough, it's not clear what's self and what's a reaction to trauma. HEAL! comes from a survivor who refuses to be quiet. It is harrowing at times, it laughs at its own pain and the people who caused it, with the excruciating sensitivity of someone whose hobbies include rescuing bugs. It has the urgency of a movie star who has taken a last sip of air before swimming through an underwater cave towards the light, only to find it's an interior car light at night and they are speeding with an ex-lover hoping insults don't become slaps and cause a crash. Withdrawal, disassociation, and rage offer relief, but the narrator finds she is seeking more. Uncompromising tenderness and deeper understanding of herself than she thought would ever be possible. HEAL! brings you back into your body, finds your heart, and reminds you that to heal is not to fix, but to feel comfortable in the darkness.