Fast Talking PI

Selina Tusitala Marsh


‘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


Fast Talking PI is the first ‘singular, confident and musical’ collection of poetry by Auckland writer Selina Tusitala Marsh. ‘Tusitala’ means writer of tales in Samoan, and Marsh here lives up to her name with stories of her life, her family, community, ancestry, and history. Her poetry is sensuous and strong, using lush imagery, clear rhythms and repetitions to power it forward. The list poem is a favourite style, but she also writes with a Pacific lyricism entirely her own.

Fast Talking PI is structured in three sections, ‘Tusitala (personal), ‘Talkback’ (political and historical) and ‘Fast Talking PI’ (already a classic). In poems like ‘Guys Like Gauguin’ she writes as a ‘calabash breaker’, fighting back against historic injustices; but in other poems she explores the idea of the calabash as the honoured vessel for identity and story. Ultimately, though, Marsh exhorts herself to ‘be nobody’s darling’, as a writer she is a self-proclaimed ‘darling in the margins’, and Fast Talking PI proves it – a generous work that will thrill readers; ‘a map in our arms / to get us over the reef’; and a tremendous first book.


Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English, Scottish and French descent. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland and is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pasifika literature. Marsh is currently developing a Pasifika Poetry website in conjunction with the NZ electronic poetry centre. Her poetry has been anthologised in the award-winning Whetu Moana; Best New Zealand Poems; Niu Voices: Contemporary Pacific Fiction 1, which she edited; and Mauri Ola. Her work deals specifically with issues that affect Pacific communities in New Zealand and indigenous peoples elsewhere, most recently focusing on the challenges and triumphs of being afakasi.


Winner of NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry 2010.


February 2012, 210 x 165 mm, 80 pages, New edition February 2012, world except UK and Ireland
Paperback, ISBN 9781869407322, $27.99