One for the Read The World challenge. Wikipedia only mentions one writer from Vanuatu: Grace Mera Molisa. There was a copy of Black Stone, her first book of poems, for sale on AbeBooks, so I thought I’d give it a punt.
This is political poetry: Black Stone was published in 1983, just three years after Vanuatu gained independence, and the main dynamics of the book are anti-colonialism and feminism.
If the aim of the challenge is to get some sense of different places around the world, then this book isn’t ideal. It largely deals with politics in the abstract, and aside from a few place-names it would be difficult to guess where it was written. I have no more idea of the landscape or everyday life of Vanuatu than I did before I read it. But then I don’t think I’m the target audience.
I’m not terribly excited by it as poetry either; most of it reads as political prose broken up rather arbitrarily into short lines. This is from a poem called Newspaper Mania:
There are occasionally hints of something more interesting, though; from the same poem, I think this has a fine acid touch to it:
flock to Port Vila
crawling the bars
sniffing the farts
and go away
on Vanuatu politics.
Despite few good moments, the book mainly reads to me as social activism rather than poetry. Not that I have anything against social activism.