Tusiata Avia Postcard

Tusiata Avia

Sāmoan Writer / Poet / Performer 

Postcards Unlocked #12

Postcards Unlocked #12 | Tusiata Avia
Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele

I write to find myself, to untangle how I feel about a thing – that thing might be as big as the injustice in Gaza or small as the dream I had last night. When I write a poem, I most often don’t have a plan. The beginning of a poem is like an itch or a spangle or an image or an overheard snatch of conversation. This thing, this ‘inspiration’, (in whatever form it takes) will often hover near me, like a tiny spirit-bird, for a short time.

I have to be quick: reach out, take hold of it by the tail, swallow it and then let it make its way through me – along through the insides of my arms, hands, pen and onto the paper. Sometimes if I’m not quick enough, or not paying attention, the spirit-bird with fly away without me. If I’m lucky, the ‘inspiration’ will follow me about like a much bigger, more insistent animal – leaping up against me again and again until I pay it attention and lay it down on paper. 

I’m grateful that poems are smallish things in size and can be captured and secured to a page or two. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if a poem was as long as a many-carriaged train. Luckily, I can leave the trains to be trapped by novelists. 

“My poems are about everything. One poem is the Christchurch massacre; the next, my father when his spirit escaped his body; the next, what jealousy feels like when it rises from my gut. I write about everything, but I also write about the same things again and again: politics, culture, history. I write about the same images again and again too: houses, water, the faces of my family.”


One of the most satisfying aspects of poetry for me is the performance of it; leaving my writer’s garret and inhabiting the words on stage. I’ve been extremely fortunate with ‘Wild Dogs Under My Skirt’ , originally a one woman show I performed for 8 years (and had to abandon when I became a single-mother and found dragging my 2 year old around the world too difficult) become a 6 woman show and have a whole new life. Since 2016 (thanks to producer and cousin, Victor Rodger) ‘Wild Dogs Under My Skirt’ has travelled, picked up a slew of awards and debuted Off-Broadway in January. 

Postcards Unlocked #12 | Tusiata Avia
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt | Photo by Raymond Sagapolutele
Tusiata Avia Tautai
Wild Dogs Under My Skirt Comic | Vaughan Flanagan

Tusiata Online
Poem Excerpt: Ode to Da Life | Facebook: Tusiata Avia

The Postcards Unlocked Collection
View Tusiata’s original postcard here.

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