Focusing on creative and critical writing was the focus of a one-day workshop led by Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, from the University of Auckland yesterday.
The participants ranged in age and experience from emerging writers such as Ariel Ioane, Sosefina Sooaemalelagi, Alesana Eteuati and Derek Fruean through to experienced poets and established writers including Jackie Fa’asisila and Diana Betham-Scanlan.
Co-ordinated by Silafau Professor Sina Va’ai, the workshop was held in the Aoa Conference Room at the National University of Samoa.
As well as providing participants with a documented series of motivational exercises, one of the early morning tasks was to look at Dr Marsh’s poem ‘Fast Talking PI’ and follow the format with their own self appraisal in words. This was all set to time limits forcing the participants to think quickly and to focus.
Then, for example, the participants were given a time limit to replace a ‘boring’ word with another.
Finally, the writers formed a circle and ‘performed’ their results to the group.
“Scary isn’t it?” said Dr Marsh.
While what followed was a diverse range of revealing information about each person, there were several stand outs including those who used humour and self deprecating honesty, others who employed rhythm in their words and delivery and some of the younger writers specifically Derek Fruean, who created exciting work which would not be out of place if put to beats as rap.
Silafau suggested that with permission from the writers, the pieces could be published later in the year in the Faculty of Arts literary journal.
Dr Marsh was in Samoa as a guest and judge of the 2016 Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story competition which had its award ceremony on Friday night.
On behalf of the regional literary organization, the South Pacific Association of Commonwealth Literary and Language Studies (S.P.A.C.L.A.L.S.), Dr Marsh also presented a special encouragement award, the Tuli prize to Lineta Tamnikaiyaroi of Samoa.