Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori women poets in translation, edited by Maraea Rakuraku and Vana Manasiadis (Seraph Press, 2018), 40 pp., $20
He tātai whetū ki te rangi, tū tonu. He tātai whetū ki te whenua, ngaro noa.
The starry hosts of heaven abide there for ever. The hosts of humans on earth pass away into oblivion.
tātai whetū: 1. (noun) constellation, cluster of stars
The ‘stars’ of Tātai Whetū, a collection of seven poems by seven Māori women poets, take the reader on a wistful journey that traverses the boundaries of the spiritual and physical realms. The poets who composed these poems will inevitably pass on from this physical world – he tātai whetū ki te whenua, ngaro noa – but their words and thoughts are hung in the metaphysical space of the heavens above as guiding lights never to be extinguished – he tātai whetū ki te rangi, tū tonu.
A highly charged current of feminine strength underlies the poems in this collection. Māori history is rich with narratives featuring strong female figures who defy the odds and are a powerful force to be reckoned with: ‘I heard their karanga, the dawn voice, centuries of women rising up in a vocal wiri from the motu …’ Anahera Gildea reminds us that we are a continuation of those who have gone before us and our karanga will add to the resounding echoes of quivering voices that will be heard for generations to come. [Read more…]