Daren Kamali

VUNIMAQO AND ME

20 March 6pm

■ book launch

EVENT POSTPONED

 

Vunimaqo And Me (Mango Bar Collections) is a new book of poems by one of our leading poets. This major work arises from the experience of growing up in the barracks or housing district of Samabula North in Suva, Fiji. This is a poetry collection that celebrates a time of unselfconscious multiculturalism, a time of different ethnic groups peaceably living side by side. It reveals the circumstances that moulded Daren Kamali's younger self and shaped his thinking as a poet of mixed ancestry, heir to a jumble of traditions represented in the voices from the streets of Suva that he captures in the daily theatre of life: the gossip, the curses, laughter, jokes and musicality.

 'Vunimaqo', the mango tree of the book's title, with its harbouring branches where children scramble, becomes a symbol of benevolence and sensual munificence, of maturity and dignity, and of local time itself, seasonal and enduring. It is stands for unity and community.

The poetry uses vibrant, colloquial language leading us into the world of the poet's childhood being.

 

 

 

She is Nana

 

 

Tears fall

Like Suva rain

 

Sleepless nights - countless rosary beads

Between withered fingers

 

Freshly lit candle burning on the altar

Our Father who art in Heaven - Lord be thy name…

 

Pacing the front yard, step by step

Bead by bead as hours disappear

 

Sorrowful Mysteries

Hail Mary full of grace…

 

She has witnessed children

Bearing babies

 

Unknown fathers

Generation What Next?

 

All she ever does is pray

GOD have mercy on us

 

Jobless

Violent fathers

 

Loveless

Desperate mothers

 

Sorrowful mysteries

Glory be to the Father - to the Son and the Holy Spirit

 

She refuses to go

Saying not yet

 

Growing older

Watching grandchildren grow

 

Great grandchildren grow

To have children

 

The cycle continues

Untold stories unfold

 

Nothing good comes out of the barracks

I came back to visit Nana

 

To sit under the Mango Tree with her

One last time

For theirs is the kingdom - the power and glory

Forever and ever

Amen

Poet, writer, and musician Daren Kamali was born in Fiji and moved to New Zealand as a child. He is the author of the trilogy of poetry books celebrating the Polynesian, Indonesian, and Melanesian world: Tales, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World (2011), Squid Out of Water: The Evolution (2014), and What Becomes of the Flying Squid? (2016). He has also released two albums, Story (2000) and Keep it Real (2005).

Before earning a BA at Manukau Institute of Technology, Kamali worked in youth arts programming as a mentor. In 2008, with Grace Taylor and Ramon Narayan, he founded the South Auckland Poets Collective, a youth program dedicated to poetry as an agent of social change. In 2013, Kamali and Taylor founded Niu Navigations, an organization aimed at encouraging Pan-Pacific writers to tell their stories. He is a former Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and has held residencies at the University of Iowa as part of its International Writing Program.

 

 

 

Photography : Jeremiah Tauamiti