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SELINA TUSITALA MARSH | in school workshops


Nelson Arts Festival is delighted to be bringing Selina Tusitala Marsh to Whakatū to speak to school students about her two inspirational graphic novels for middle grade readers, Mophead (winner of the 2020 Margaret Mahy Award) and Mophead Tu (a finalist for this year's award).

Selina Tusitala Marsh is known as the ‘fast talking PI (Pacific Island) poet’ and was Aotearoa’s Poet Laureate from 2017-2019.

Tusitala is Samoan for ‘storyteller’. In her bestselling Mophead: How Your Difference Makes a Difference, Selina recounts her experiences growing up Pasifika in Aotearoa. Selina, aged 10, is teased for her big, impossible-to-tame wild, frizzy hair. The mean kids at school call her 'mophead'. Selina does everything she can to tie her hair up and be the same as the other kids. That is until one day when New Zealand poet Sam Hunt visits her school and she has an epiphany; she will let her hair out, embrace her difference, and just go wild.

In her follow up, Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem, Selina is crowned Commonwealth Poet and invited to perform for the Queen in Westminster Abbey but faces a big challenge: can she stand with her people who struggled against the Queen... and still serve the Queen? From the sinking islands in the South Seas to the smoggy streets of London, Mophead Tu is a hilariously thought-provoking take on colonial histories and one poet’s journey to bridge the divide.

Selina is available to visit four schools in the Nelson-Tasman region.

Selina Tusitala Marsh 

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English 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. Her first collection, the bestselling Fast Talking PI, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry in 2010. Marsh represented Tuvalu at the London Olympics Poetry Parnassus event in 2012; her work has been translated into Ukrainian and Spanish and has appeared in numerous forms live in schools, museums, parks, billboards, print and online literary journals. As Commonwealth Poet (2016), she composed and performed for the Queen at Westminster Abbey. She became New Zealand's Poet Laureate in 2017. Her debut children’s book and memoir, Mophead: How Your Difference Makes a Difference, was awarded the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year – 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Her follow-up book, Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem, is a finalist in the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Thur 21 & Fri 22 Oct

120 min

Please contact to book 

Suitability: Years 5 -8

Trigger Warning: Bullying and/or unacceptable discrimination

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