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Night Is a Sharkskin Drum (Talanoa Contemporary Pacific Literature) Hardcover – August 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0824826161 ISBN-10: 0824826167

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Trask's From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i is a classic of postcolonial studies, but Trask's poetry is also crucial to her activism. Her Light in the Crevice Never Seen is considered the first book of poems published on the mainland by a native Hawaiian, and this follow-up consists of three sections of lyrics, incantation and instigation. The first, "Born in Fire," contains a series of chant-like poems focused on the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele, who in Trask's work represents a specifically Hawaiian feminine strength. The second, "A Fragrance of Devouring," has poems of complaint about "the common greed/ of vulgar Americans" and about the loss of Hawaiian sovereignty. The poem "Puowaina: Flag Day," begins with a focus on plants rich in Hawaiian symbol (a glossary is provided) as it urges readers to "Bring lei hulu,/ palapalai, pikake. Bring/ kapa, beaten fine" and then ends "and burn/ their American/ flag." Yet Trask doesn't find many takers for her exhortations, and laments what the poet perceives as apathy among Hawaiians: "The natives don't/ horde small fortunes/ for revolution's/ duty. They sit,/ observing the parade." Things get ugly in a poem that describes Daniel Inouye, the U.S. senator from Hawai'i, as the "Japanese senator, smugly/ armless from the great war/ preposterous manikin/ of empire, feigning an accent." Yet the third and strongest section, "Chants of Dawn," is composed of love poems and celebrations of the land-often in spare stanzas that travel "Into our sovereign suns,/ drunk on the mana/ of Hawai'i." It is these poems that best highlight Trask's craft and defiance.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A testament to Trask's poetic mana. With these poems, she shows us once more that despite the ugliness she has seen, the ugliness that has pierced her, stabbed her, wounded her, scarred her and her people, there is beauty still."

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