Home is where every memory stops – Kapka K Kassabova. Landfall , Spring 1995, New Zealand Arts & Letters: 190.


What a title!

Kassabova writes of living between two worlds, one which is no longer home and another which will never be home. Sofia her hometown is what she dreams about but that homesickness is for a place where Communist Totalitarianism rules and means a town of empty shops and shelves, lacking in infrastructure and services. There is love for her town and country Sofia, Bulgara, but this intelligent and lyrical piece is perhaps a love letter or an inscription on a tomb stone.

They the fair ones had it all. They had real cars, real money, real clothes, real chocolates. . . How did they deserve to have all of that? . . . Both sides lived in a mythical space , which gradually became real.

This paragraph shows the power of words to allow readers to bring their own thoughts and perspectives to shape the interpretation.

Written about Dutch visitors. But this is the difference between Māori and Pakeha, the poor and the affluent, the loser and the winner. So much that is put down to Māori being indolent, happy go lucky, lacking in ambition and intelligence. The bitterness and envy that colonised people have toward the coloniser who has so much. It cannot be justified, it’s just lived as that’s just the way it is. There is a Māori middle-class, but they are vulnerable to job loss and changes in domestic partnerships.

How did they, the fair ones deserve all that? The British government passed the
1852 Constitution Act.

Still searching for a way and means of placing the project within a framework of social commentary with phrases or paragraphs that can have more than one meaning. Or to place it over a pūrākau that adds markers of injustice.

This is the first work that I read of Kapka Kassabova who now lives in Scotland.


Hinemoana Baker: Mātuhi


A Walk with Your Father – an excerpt

    Your feet, are they the right size?
    If they’re too large you will tire quickly,
    too small and you’ll be left behind.
    You’re probably looking at feet
    about the same size as his

I have a copy of Mātuhi -Needle at home. It’s the first poetry book I’ve ever owned. I was given it weeks after Hinemoana visited our MIT Creative Writing class and read some of her poetry. He tohu tena, was the thought.

How did you become a writer, a poet I wondered? How did women like Hinemoana know and how do they know so fast? What flicks the switch inside to become a writer?

    That step you’re about to take
    Will have to be wider than you’re used to
    Don’t forget to move forward, not backwards

I felt like a fake, sitting there in the class. Surely if I was a writer, I should have known years ago? I didn’t readily read poety, most went over my head, but the cadence of these in Mātuhi, their simplicity and directness left the door open for me. I knew and could whakapapa to some of them named in the pages. Mostly I felt like a silly old cow that was trying to hang out with the show ponies.

    Mihi to Tangāroa
    Mihi to Hinemoana.
    Now get in under there,
    immerse yourself.

This was not a foreign world. But HB is writing about a relationship and experience of fatherhood through the children of Tangāroa and Hinemoana, support, resolve and action.

I am recalling this because HB was brought in by Anahera today to Milk and Honey to talk with some of the Māori students studying the IIML. When I first met her, I had no plans to study at IIML, indeed before MIT, I had never heard of the place. But this is the kōhangā reo for writers that she fledged from. Her writing experience has moved beyond the shores of Aotearoa and to Berlin, Germany and now she is to study a Phd there.

There is no money in poetry publishing except for the very few, and just 10% for a publication run after 2,000 copies are sold. But I already knew that. Why am I here? To some extent it is because Māori writers and wāhine Māori writers in particular reached out and told me they have voices and places and mana. Haere mai they said.

    Anei taku mihi
    Ki ngā wāhine tuhituhi
    Ki ngā wāhine Māori tuhituhi
    Ki a tātou ngā kaituhi tātou katoa
    Haere mai, Hara mai.


Geraldine Warren (Ngāti Porou/Ngāti Kahungunu) has just finished her MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University. She is a former member of Banana Boat (Māori and Pasifika Writers) and has had work published in Story Board 13: A Journal of Pacific Imagery as well as Ora Nui 2 Special Edition. 

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