Amy Brown 
Reviews Selina Tusitala Marsh’s, Dark Sparring

Posted: 09/09/2021 by vequinox in Literature

To Koskino


Dark Sparring
by Selina Tusitala Marsh
Auckland University Press, 2013

The first epigraph to Selina Tusitala Marsh’s new collection is from Muhammad Ali; ‘The fight,’ he says, ‘is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines … long before I dance under these lights’. Behind Tusitala Marsh’s lines of poetry, there is an immense reserve of strength and grace, enough to sustain the poet through her mother’s death from cancer and to channel her fear and anger into rhythms of the Muay Thai kickboxing ring and the page.

A prologue, titled ‘Matariki’, acts as an invocation. Matariki is the Maori New Year, and the name of one of Tusitala Marsh’s students, who had recently lost her mother. The narrator urges Matariki to:

write what you remember
write your lost and found
write the toiling of the year’s grief
write the seeding of the new (1).

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