Fast Talking PI by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Seeing that the P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A Inc National Conference (for women) will take place this week, I thought that it would be wonderful to share the poetry work of one of our leading Pasifika Women here in Auckland, New Zealand, Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh.

Fast Talking PI is Selina Tusitala Marsh’s first book of poems which was published in 2009 by the Auckland University Press with the assistance of Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa. Fast Talking PI was awarded the New Zealand Society of Authors Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry in 2010. This book is accompanied with a CD of 7 her musical poetry performances.  (For non-Pasifika people;  ‘PI’ stands for Pacific Islander and ‘Tusitala’ means writer of tales in the Samoan language).

With 72 pages, Fast Talking PI is structured in three sections, ‘Tusitala’, ‘Talkback’ and ‘Fast Talking PI’. Selina’s life stories are interlaced with those of her family, community, ancestry, and history and altogether they are interwoven as the tapestry of her poems. Her poetry is deep with strong use of thriving imagery. On her CD, her musical arrangement powers her lyrics through with an enjoyable rhythmical flow.

‘Marsh’s first book of poems is bold, fascinating, foolhardy, risky, on-the-edge stuff – but it seems to work. Her poems leap and twist with the dexterity of buzzing UFOs hanging around the Pacific.’ – Hamesh Wyatt, Otago Daily Times

“Selina Marsh, in this her first collection, shows she is one of the most gifted and influential members of that generation. Congratulations forever, Selina!” Albert Wendt

Here’s one of Selina’s poetry pieces “Fast Talking PI” which is featured in her book and on her CD. This is my favourite piece from Selina. Have a listen and you’ll see why (remember PI stands for Pacific Islander):

You can find Selina’s poetry work published in Blackmail Press, Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English, Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English–Whetu Moana II (Auckland University Press/UHP), Best New Zealand Poems 2006, Niu Voices: Contemporary Pacific Fiction 1 and The Contemporary Pacific (UHP).  Furthermore, Selina established and co-ordinates a website for Pasifika Poets. Visit NZ Electronic Poetry Centre

Selina Tusitala Marsh became The University of Auckland’s (New Zealand) first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English.  Her Doctoral Thesis titled: Ancient banyans, flying foxes and white ginger: Five Pacific women writers that investigated the works of five Pacific Island women poets Jully Makini (Solomon Islands), Grace Mera Molisa (Vanuatu), Haunani-Kay Trask (Hawai’i), Konai Helu Thaman (Tonga), and Momoe Malietoa Von Reiche (Samoa).  She believes that these poets pioneers of Pacific literature and were of great influence of empowerment. “Poetry was used as a political voice. These women were all quite remarkable boundary-breakers.”

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is truly an inspiration indeed! To order a copy of her book & CD, click HERE. I have my own copy of her book & CD and I highly recommend it! 🙂


  1. I love Selina’s work. She is indeed an inspiration. I wish someone had recorded her performance reading of the poem she wrote for Telesa….she was amazing!

    On a separate note- will you be at the PASIFIC conference on Friday? Hope to meet you there.

    1. Hi Lani,
      That is so awesome! I missed out on the Telesa book launch because we had a family wedding that week 😦 But I read up on how it went and I’m glad the Telesa book launch was a success. It would be great to see and/or hear the poem that Selina wrote for Telesa. I bet it’s amazing!
      And yes, I’m happy (& extremely excited) that I will be attending the PACIFICA Conference! I’m glad that you will be there! I can’t wait to finally meet you YAY!
      Many blessings & love xox

    1. Hi Sis, I’m glad you enjoyed the audio. When i first heard a while ago, I couldn’t help but giggle at some of the lines e.g. “…I’m a take no lunch to school today but anyway PI…” haha! Enjoy your week xox

    1. Hi Eve, thank you so much for visiting and reading. You’re such a wonderful poet. I am inspired by the way you write. Looking forward to reading more of your work. God bless xox

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