Every poem has a creation talanoa: a story of how it was written. In a Rotuman context, ‘talanoa’ or story, can either be a ‘rogrog/o’ or ‘hanuju’. From conception to final drafting, the creation hanuju can reveal the often-volatile relationship between a poet’s internal self-talk and external historical and contemporary experiences. Memories (shaped by external experiences) will feed mulling, reliving, and reimagination (internal self-talk) and can consequently and impulsively set off the content, tone, form, and literary techniques of a poem into unanticipated directions. It is not uncommon for a poet to step away from a stanza and reflexively ask, ‘How did I get here?!’ Other external factors of poetic crafting are the social and political climate of the time of writing, the purpose and specifications of a commissioned task, and research. Research is necessary if a poem insists on wandering into ragged and unfamiliar territory. Of all these factors, current socio-political climate is perhaps the most influential in mobilising communities and individuals to engage in creative thinking and writing.
This article is a one-way (because as a reader, you are not in the position to interrupt me) hanuju of my creative process of writing the poem Writing each other during COVID-19 and the concurrent event(s) of the BLM movement. This hanuju critically discusses the themes of remember-ing obedience, mov-ing over in honour of disobedience, and conced-ing power that emerged as a vison for unity and kotahitanga. In essence, this hanuju is largely a story of disobedience: a celebration of my mapiga (grandmother) Lilly’s gift of Rotuman language storytelling and the centring of the Rotuman language in a poem written for a predominantly mixed audience in the Waikato region of Aotearoa.
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