Karlo mila biography of donald
Much love to you xox Once again, thank you so much Dr Karlo Mila for the time that you have provided. He can't read or write but he's one of the smartest and most stubborn people I know. This was inspirational and informative, thanks so much, Maryanne, for sharing with us!
He can't read or write but he's one of the smartest and most stubborn people I know. Part of his huge confidence and determination as a migrant to this country was because of his sense that he was a city boy. My dad got an apprenticeship in painting and wallpapering from his two uncles who had settled in Rotorua and ran big businesses back in the day. I think he wanted my younger sister and me to be New Zealanders and leave everything Tongan behind.
He has learned that neither of us is willing to do that. My Palangi family has a long history of involvement in Tonga because they are Methodists. She shared a room with my mum. My nana was very used to having large households of extended family around her. Her mother was born in Samoa. Tell us about those. Grandma Florence lived until she was 98 and spoke fluent Samoan, German and English. Susana was the daughter of Mary Stowers — so we trace back to the original Stowers family.
On my dad's side, we have many Samoan connections also.
Through that line we are also connected to the Tiumalu family in American Samoa. We still have relatives living in Pago Pago. Some cousins came and lived with us. We went to Tonga twice. That love affair with Tonga and all things Tongan never really ended after that. I wanted to be Tongan. Going to Tonga meant that I could pin some meaning to that otherness.
There were hardly any Pacific peoples in Palmy then. I was 13, It was a bit difficult to adjust from being a typical New Zealand teenager and then find myself in a school uniform that required matching ribbons to my dress.
I didn't even know how to plait my hair before I went to Tonga. I remember getting sent home on mufti day because I wore trousers. I remember jogging around the streets and being laughed at because it was weird over there then. I remember finding it hard to make friends at first, even though everyone was friendly.
I was sent there to learn Tongan, but my Tongan was pretty limited. I went to an English-speaking school and we lived in town. My Tongan has never been fluent and it is always a source of embarrassment. I have been shamed out about it by so many Tongan academics it's not funny. I lived there for six months and went back to teach after my first degree, for six months. Going to school in Tonga was so different.
The main thing, I think, was that it was so cool to do well in school. If you were smart, you were cool. Her older brother reacted so violently to having someone brown come with them, they uninvited me.
I think at the time, you brush a lot of it off, but at the same time, you are very vulnerable to it.
Some of my Palangi family members had openly racist friends who I tried to avoid. One was even the photographer at my mum's second wedding to a Palangi. He was a well-known racist. What do you do? I learned early to confront that kind of behaviour head on, but as a child I often had very limited power. I really struggled to make sense of a lot of this, which is why I went on to take sociology at university. When you can put all the pieces together, you can resist it in a powerful way.
We stuck together in lots of ways but I also learned how they were positioned differently. For me, in a reasonably racist place, they were a safe haven of acceptance and non-discrimination.
There were no underlying, unspoken racist assumptions that you had to navigate carefully and avoid. It was a lot of fun. But I also learned serious lessons. For example, I learned that I was not tangata whenua and if anything I was manuhiri, a visitor. That was hard to get my head around at the time and it was a painful discovery.
I realised I'd been fed a lot of biased information, if not lies, and it made me really angry.
The Amazing and Beautiful Poet Dr Karlo Mila
You have to question everything they teach you, I realised, and it started off a career of writing, researching and activism against all of that rubbish they try and make you believe. I am not one who is confident about sending poems to literary magazines for rejection. I was gobsmacked when I won the award. This multi-cultural, lyrical voice is one the judges expect to hear a lot more of.
Some of it reaches back to my teenage years. I walked many worlds and there is a little tribute to many of these landscapes.
I connected with many people and many poems are odes to the politics of relationships, mapped desire or imaginary rendezvous. I was lucky because I was not that inhibited at the time. So it was just my truth, mediated via fiction.
When did you start sharing your poetry work with others? We had to share our work.
This was painful for me at first, because I had always written things that were personal and private. The harsh light of day and scrutiny by others was a shock at first. But there is a joy that comes with sharing too. She was my poetry-mother in a sense. Her work was beyond influential. That was the beginning of the end for me; my fate was irreversibly intertwined with poetry. Other influences have been most obviously Alice Walker, who taught me to: Glenn Colquhoun became quite influential regarding the craft of poetry when he edited my second book of poetry, but that was less about what I saw and wrote and more about how I self-edited.
I really like his poetry too. I love reading poetry and I seem to like it more than I used to. Lots of poetry used to leave me really cold, or feeling bored by it. I need to check out the works of some of those poets. What was that like working alongside another artist?
It was a lovely thing to do. It was such a rich collaboration. Because it seemed to happen in the middle of multiple things, kids, PhD, contract work, life… Poetry is so solitary in many ways and to collaborate was a joy. That would have been an exciting time for you both. What do you want people to get out of your poetry work? I really hoped that there would be girls and guys who were like me and never saw any of their lives in the library. Now things have changed, but I hoped that they might see a line or two in my poems whereby they recognised a line or two from their lives.
That would be enough. Sometimes, when I write poems for particular people and sometimes when I write a poem for an event. To be honest, often I am trying to get rid of that audience, zone them out of head, so I can get to what is most true for me, and not feel inhibited by thinking about people I know reading it. Thanks for sharing that. What do you think sets Pacific writers apart from those of other ethnicities?
The thought frightens me. I agree with you! You are well loved in the Tongan community. How do you feel about all this? Attending the Cultural Olympiad in London this year was an honour.
It will go down as one of my all-time most amazing life experiences and I had the support of many wonderful family members, friends, colleagues and the community at large for which I am grateful for. With regards to the Tongan Poetry Night, I am looking forward to reading with other Tongan poets and hearing a new generation of voices speak out. Tongans are incredibly talented in the area of poetry and we have a long legacy of poetry in our culture. I love seeing how this plays out in the generations to come.
You are a lovely role model for Tongan women and young girls! What keeps you connected to the Tongan community? My friends and acquaintances, I mean it is all about people and connections.
It has been hard living away from Auckland for so long, because I miss the Tongan community there so much.
A lot of my connections have been made through work, through the health sector and research sector, through being an active part of the Tongan Advisory Council for quite a while, through organising community events and participating, as you do. One of the good things is that they warm up again when you reconnect. Thank you for sharing that and we hope that you and your family move back to Auckland soon lol!
I see that you are also interested in other areas of the arts, can you see yourself exploring other avenues of creativity in the near future? I am a big fan of beauty and a big fan of critical thinking. Art tends to be one or the other. New things on the horizon yay! Throughout this poetry journey, what would be your best moment or best experience be? Reading in London was amazing, reading in Suva, Fiji, was another highlight. Our great hero has more in common with the cartoon fare of the hunchback of Notre Dame, more affinity with the Beast than any Beauty.
Diabetic amputations, shorter life expectancy, these are very real problems that the Pacific population is battling with. The top seven fattest countries in the world are from the Pacific. In Aotearoa, almost one third of Pacific kids are obese and two-thirds of adults are. People close to me have dedicated their whole careers to trying to do something positive about obesity in the Pacific population. One of the strategies is to draw on a heritage where barely anyone was overweight, because they were so active and the diet was so healthy.
But that pride in the active past just got messed with. But, how weird to have us complaining about body size. The shoe is most definitely on an unfamiliar foot. And more than a little bit of my heart broke when I read this analysis from the blogger Louise Afoa: But judging by popular opinion, my fat brown body will never and should never represent a Pacific goddess. That hurt in the way that every little Pacific Island girl saw Cinderella and knew that shoe would never fit.
So, yes, we break the rules and the scales when it comes to size.
And yes, we come from a cultural context that has very little practice at fat-shaming. Not a stick figure thin blond Prince Charming beautiful, but beautiful in the way that so many of our men effortlessly are. The six-pack was not a requirement for my viewing pleasure, although every picture of every hero that I have ever seen my sons draw includes a strange lumpy little grid around the belly.
He should have a six-pack and abs. They grew up in the Age of Ultron. Once, I would have thought that was sad. But maybe having him left to our imaginations was not such a bad thing. It matters that the Poly girls are finally going to get someone with more South Pacific sun on her skin than a Snow White English rose. All of us create stories of ourselves out of existing stories. The white elephant in the room is that almost all the Disney characters are white. And there is no doubt that he will become a part of the bits and pieces that our young boys use to make sense of who they are and what they are capable of in the world.
Laughs go a long way. But mana trumps all. Love what we do? Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.
Be respectful in your comments, and your opinion of other readers' viewpoints. By comparison,a succession of actors and actresses including comedic Jim Carrie playing God,have in no way altered my perceptions and beliefs in that deity,perhaps we need to lighten up a little.
This is so on point! Reading this, I feel sad for my Poly brothers, with all their mana and Poly-swag, eyes-to-close, no-neck, brown and Shrek-like who have been degraded by your comments.
Sorry its nuance lost on a couple of the readers. As a big fan of Karlo Mila this review is gutting.
I'm big, brown, poly, apparently an oafish with eyes hurrendously ugly w ooga booga fat lips the same fat lips handed down to me by my ancestors and a savage nose spread half way across my face that stretches out even wider when I smile or laugh. There's a heap of us that don't have a sharp pakeha looking nose or little lips with a dainty chin. I think this smacks of some internalised racism that alot of us hold brown folk hold but please don't reinforce western beauty standards on us all. For myself, my 'ooga booga savage like' ancestors and my full lipped brothers and sisters.
Fetu, I want to say to you that I'm bummed out that this article had this impact. I'm criticising a caricature made my Disney and I can't see that any of the proportions on that cartoon could be achieved in real life without plastic surgery. It was the mathematical impossibility of the features that pissed me off.
I know what the ooga booga savage trope looks like. Peter Jackson does it well in many of his movies. I don't meet those people in real life, cos nobody in my mind, actually looks like that. This is my point. This is not about my internalised racism, it's about somebody else's. I get it why it would upset you and I apologise to you for a combination of words that comes off inconsiderate and uncomplimentary. But I have never looked at anyone in real life and thought that their lips were too full or that they looked ooga booga.
One look into the photo album of my life - my family, my lovers, my friends - would put that to rest. Sorry for not being more careful about how I put that across or thinking about my own hafe kasi privilege in the way that I wrote that. Quite frankly, I think we are a seriously, relentlessly beautiful, beautiful people - and that's what annoys me about this representation.