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Matala: poems

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Title:Matala: poems
Authors:Kava, Leora
Contributors:Perez, Craig (advisor)
English (department)
Keywords:Creative writing
Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:The creative work in this dissertation is suppressed in the UH institutional repository, Kahualike, Inquiries about the creative work should be made to Leora Kava.
Matala, a full-length collection of poetry, explores Tongan language and epistemology through poetic examinations of personal experiences piecing together a mixed-race, Tongan identity across and between California, Hawaiʻi, and Tonga. The collection’s central image comes from a version of the kava origin chant, an ancestral story that figures the body of a Tongan daughter who was sacrificed in order to feed the Tuʻi Tonga (king of Tonga) (Velt). This origin story also narrates how the first kava and sugarcane grew from her burial mound. Across four sections—kava, tohi, anga, and matala—the collection arrives and departs from these central images in the kava story in order to document elements of Tongan poetics, Indigenous theory, decolonial politics, Pacific Studies, and Pacific literary studies within everyday diasporic experiences. The collection is grounded in found poetry techniques that incorporate language and archival knowledge from the Tongan-English dictionary (Churchward 2015), from family and community stories, and family letters. This piecing together of texts mirrors, and is intimately part of, the process of binding together understandings of Tongan culture in diaspora. Ultimately, through this series of binding meaning, Matala places the personal within realms of decolonial Pacific politics, liberatory imaginations for healing the past, planting seeds in the present, and growing Indigenous futures.
Pages/Duration:47 pages
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - English

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