New Zealand's new Poet Laureate

28 August 2017
Selina Tusitala Marsh

Associate Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh has been named New Zealand's new Poet Laureate.

"I'm honoured and humbled by this Award," says Selina.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to extend the poetic page and stage to this nation's multi-coloured, multi-hued voices."

"Samoans have the to'oto'o, the orator's staff, a symbol of the authority to speak on behalf of a group."

"To be recognised in this way is breath-taking. To occupy the role is breath-giving — I can't wait to take the Laureate's tokotoko to the people and make poetry."

The Poet Laureate is one of the most prestigious national awards for New Zealand poets, recognising outstanding contributions to New Zealand poetry.

Each Laureate is awarded $80,000 over two years by the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa to create new work and promote poetry throughout the country.

They also receive a carved tokotoko or orator's stick, symbolising their authority and status.

"We are delighted to announce Selina as the country's new Laureate," says Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

"She is an extraordinary poet, performer and literary advocate."

Selina is the award-winning author of three collections of poetry, including her latest book, Tightrope (AUP) which was launched on Friday at the Fale Pasifika. She was Commonwealth Poet in 2016.

Selina was the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland. She is a strong advocate for Pasifika poetry and literature and specialises in Māori and Pacific Literary Studies and Creative Writing.

New Zealand's first Poet Laureate was Bill Manhire in 1997. Selina joins an esteemed line of Poets Laureate with University of Auckland affiliations, with Hone Tuwhare, Professor Michele Leggott, Ian Wedde, Vincent O'Sullivan and Emeritus Professor C.K. Stead previously holding the position.


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