Over 40 writers - students, adults, and teachers attended the Literature and Spoken Word workshop held on the Thursday of the Pacific Arts Association conference.
Hosted by New Zealand Poet Laureate, Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh with her Auckland University Summer Scholar, Zech Soakai, the session drew rave reviews from those attending.
“The writing workshop was inspiring, the students loved it. It’s so incredible to do things like this in Samoa,” said Mrs Annie Meredith of Vaiala Beach School.
Equally exciting was that the participants got the chance to examine the Matua Tokotoko up close.
Mrs Meredith’s pupils were amongst other writers including young Maselina Hazelman of St Mary’s Primary School and university student, Ariel Fana’afi Ioane who had been prize winners in Short Story competitions run by the Samoa Observer.
Ms Rachel Laulu, a category winner of the 2016, Samoa Observer Tuisitala Short Story competition for adults simply said, “Selina is amazing.”
“It was great to leave with two pieces of writing which Selina encouraged us to use as ‘bones’ and to revisit and rewrite,” said Mrs Meredith.
Other exercises included being given 15 minutes to use five abstract, random words in a story.
Echoing Tusitala Marsh’s mantra of “each one, teach one” Mrs Meredith said one of her Year 8 pupils, Marcus Heeswyck, took the class through some of the workshop activities at school the next day.
Dr Marsh plans to return to Samoa in 2018 to run a three-day workshop on poetry while her University of Auckland colleague, the noted Dr Paula Morris who teaches the Master of Creative Writing, will work with local authors on writing they have done.
Tusitala Marsh has recently published a poetry collection, ‘Tightrope’ and has been commissioned to write a poem about N.Z. mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist, Sir Edmund Hillary who with Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1953.