Notes on Whitman, Figiel, Ihimaera, Hulme…

Walt Whitman (1819-92) – Transcendentalism, realism, free verse (simplicity, the
common man), confessionalism, earthiness and unabashed sexuality, universal I/eye
(movement from the miniscule to the cosmic), foremost American poet (with Emily
Dickinson) of the nineteenth century.
Kaleidoscopic. (like Figiel)
“Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass – very long (52 sections), flowing, digressive, allencompassing vision, nature and the natural, life-affirming
- Is there a Dickinson poem in the textbook to share with the class???
Sia Figiel – Novelist: where we once belonged (Bildungsroman set in Samoa) and The Girl in
the Moon Circle. American Samoa, born 1967. Literature and Language Arts Specialist for
the Pacific Islands Centre for Educational Development in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Vocabulary: fale [thatched hut]; sinnet [corded fibers used in construction or crafts];
pandanus [Pacific shrub that can be used for construction or cooking]; lavalava [skirt];
fa’alavelave [traditional celebration]; saka [thick pudding made from bananas or taro and
coconut cream]
Musicality, rhythm, dance, repetition, emphasis.
In what ways is this Figiel’s “Song of Herself”?
Keri Hulme (the bone people – highly acclaimed novel about an antisocial woman, a boy
running wild, and his caretaker, and their encounter with neglected ancestral and
communal spirituality) – asexual – Scots, English, and one-eighth Maori – New Zealand.
Marae – “earth,” sacred cultural meeting area.
E nga iwi o nga/gna iwi = O the bones of the people, O the people of the bones
- first means the ancestors, second means the descendents
Collective mind -- timelessness
E ngā iwi o ngāi tahu
O the bones of Ngai Tahu (a people group of southern New Zealand?)
iwi – bone, peoples/ancestors (where are your bones = where do you come from)
mihi – greeting. manuhiri – visitor, guest to a Maori marae
Witi Ihimaera, one of the foremost living Maori writers, professor at the University of
Auckland, novelist, author of The Whale Rider (1987) et al. Openly gay (Nights in the
Gardens of Spain). His nephew Gary Lewis is married to Lady Davina, a member of the
British royal family (the daughter of the queen’s cousin).
Oh Numi Tutelar – o tutelary [patron or protecting] gods (aria “O nume tutelar” from
opera La Vestale by Spontini). Putatara – conch-shell trumpet.
Piki mai, kake mai, homai te wai ora
ki ahau – come hither, draw nigh, give me the
waters of life (from A Karakia, a Maori song/mihi)
Te Arikinui – Paramount Chief (Queen of the Maori 1966-2006)
Aotearoa – Maori name for New Zealand
Haramai te toki [bring hither the axe], hui e [we are gathered], haumi e [it is finished],
taiki e – a saying often used in speeches – to signal the group is united and ready to
process their purpose
kai karanga [women who give a welcome call at a marae]
E taonga tū mai, tū mai, tū mai [O treasure, come back to me (x3)]
Rangiatea – ancient mythical house or shrine of origins
aurora australis – southern lights (aurora borealis – Northern Lights)
Magi – wise men
Ka Ao, ka Ao, ka awatea – the day has broken
-Dinner with the Cannibal –
Maori and “savage” peoples often depicted as cannibals
throwing wet black T-shirt – 1990, a 27-year-old Maori student named Henearoahuea
Tepou threw a T-shirt at the queen as a protest over New Zealand’s treatment of the
Maori population.
Noel Coward is supposed to have made a joke about the weight of Queen Salote of
Tonga at the coronation of the Queen of England in 1953.
Maoritanga – Maori culture
150 years – in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British invaders and
the Maori chiefs (basically the founding document of present-day New Zealand)