Pacific voices in new anthology

By Lumepa Hald 09 January 2022, 10:13PM

Two Samoan writers have launched a literary anthology in collaboration with other Pacific writers in a bid to nurture otherwise overlooked fictional voices in the region.

Sisilia Eteuati and Lani Wendt Young are the curators of the new title - Vā – Stories by Women of the Moana - which celebrates Oceania women authors.

Each sought to inspire established and aspiring Pacific writers to contribute to the book.

They issued a Facebook call for Oceania women to share their stories for a book written “by us, about us and for us” with a deadline of only two weeks. It resulted in creative fiction from 38 writers, with a total of 70 original short stories and poems, totalling 98,000 words.

“It was a way to get everyone writing,” said Mrs Young, one of Samoa’s most well known authors.

Drawing on Mrs Young’s experience as a hybrid author who has books that are both independently and traditionally published, the duo formed Tatou Publishing.

Ms. Eteuati, a lawyer and writer in New Zealand, took the lead in the editing process. 

Both she and Ms. Young grew up in Samoa and saw that too many stories of the Pacific were being lost. 

 “We all deserve to be the main characters in rich and diverse stories, we deserve to be the heroes and the villains, we deserve to imagine ourselves in other galaxies,” she said. 

“And others deserve to see us this way too. We are nobody's stereotype.” 

Ms. Eteuati told Samoa Observer that the online version was published in December 2021 but the launch for the physical book will be in early February both in Samoa and New Zealand.

“We released it first online because we wanted to get it to readers worldwide as soon as possible,” she said.

“It is immediately downloadable for women in Japan and in these hard times of COVID-19, we can connect across oceans. 

Some of the writers include a Samoan fa’afafine who works for the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Miss Nicki Perese. 

Miss Perese was inspired by the late Mrs Teresia Teaiwa, a senior lecturer at Victoria University who always believed in her writing. Said Miss Perese, of her participation in the anthology, 

“To be amongst amazing Pacific writers that are women is an achievement in itself. At first I did not want to cross the boundary of including myself in an anthology written by an all women panel,” Miss Perese said. 

“I find myself tired of the debate of what makes someone a woman so I avoid getting personally offended when people question the level of my femininity.”

Another writer, Audrey-Brown Pereira was also acknowledged by the editors.

Mrs Pereira is of Cook Island and Samoan heritage and also resides in Samoa with her family. 

The book’s cover art was created by well-known Samoan artist Lalovai Peseta.

By Lumepa Hald 09 January 2022, 10:13PM

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