Identity Poetry Notes

How is the idea of identity and
belonging conveyed in three texts
you have studied?
Wild Dogs under my Skirt by Tusiata
• Avia uses the process of being tattooed, and
descriptions of the tattoos themselves to convey
her identity and belonging to Samoan culture.
• Technique: Simile
• Example: “I want my legs like centipedes / the
black ones / that sting and swell for weeks”
• Meaning: This quote means that Avia wants
images on her malu to relate to the black
centipedes commonly found in Samoa. In this
way, her malu is symbolic of her Samoan
Bred in South Auckland by Glenn
• Colquhoun uses stereotypes of four cultures commonly
found in South Auckland to celebrate its diversity.
• Technique: Pun
• Example: “I think I am the luckiest mongrel I know.”
• The word “mongrel”, refers to the negative stereotypes
some people hold against South Auckland. However,
“mongrel” also means “mixed breed” when referring to
a dog – in this way the word conveys the diversity of
South Auckland at the same time as rejecting negative
stereotypes of the area.
Fast Talking PI – Selina Tusitala Marsh
• Marsh makes an extensive list of many ways Pacific
Islanders living in New Zealand could be described.
• Technique: Listing
• Example: “I’m an All Black PI…I’m an MA PI”
• This quote conveys two things Pacific Islanders are
commonly successful at in New Zealand – Sport and
Education. Marsh herself was the first person of Pacific
Island descent to gain a PhD from the University of
Auckland. MA means Master of Arts and is a
postgraduate degree. By listing many things a Pacific
Islander can be, Marsh asserts their individuality and
conveys her sense of identity and culture.
Why should Year 10s read these
• The poetry is all about identity. The three
poets discussed use poetry to assert their
identity and convey their cultural heritage.
By reading these poems, students will begin to
gain an understanding about how poetry can
give people a voice, and help them
understand “who they are”.

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