From Waiheke to Westminster — Pacific Poet and Scholar Selina Tusitala Marsh Reads Poetry to Queen Elizabeth II

Auckland University Pacific poetry lecturer Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh was commissioned to write and perform a poem about unity at the Commonwealth Day service at London’s Westminster Abbey.


This was once my lecturer at the University of Auckland, and I am happy to go on record saying, Selina Tusitala Marsh was and still is awesome! She was the one who offered me a spot to perform at a Lounge#37 poetry reading alongside a privileged selection of poets, and in that same year she also asked me to be her research assistant for a temporary period, which was neat now that I think back on it. Kind of felt like a private investigator. One time I was asked to track down Mike Tyson which led me to several Las Vegas casting agents who were rather unmotivated to update their webpages. Each lead colder than the last. Tyson was in New York. I never asked why, but I suspected it had something to do with a book. Another time Selina needed access to a rare interview with a poet from Papua New Guinea, which I discovered could only be sourced through one location and private holder in the world in Australia. After a lot of back-and-forth emails, I managed to obtain a digital audio file and transcript of the full interview, at which point I felt incredibly reliable. Although that job cost money, Selina reimbursed me so it was all good; felt legit.

All the students who I became friends with who were also taught by Selina agree, there isn’t a single class at the university like hers. Hands-down my favourite paper. I could not think of a better voice to represent Oceania and New Zealand, respectively.

Ms Marsh says she spoke with Queen Elizabeth II after the interfaith gathering, attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

“It’s one thing being on Waiheke island composing in your kitchen, it’s another thing to walk in and be standing in front of the tomb of Queen Elizabeth the first reciting your poem and that’s what I did, I spoke to her.” The event is the first of many events the Queen will attend during her 90th birthday celebrations.

~ by Fionnlagh on March 17, 2016.

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