Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh (b 1971) is an Auckland-based poet, scholar and senior lecturer at The University of Auckland, specialising in Māori and Pacific literary studies. Of Samoan, Tuvaluan, Scottish and French ancestry, Selina was the first person of Pacific descent to graduate with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland. She has published two single-authored poetry collections Fast Talking PI (2009) and Dark Sparring (2013) and her work has featured in many academic texts, journals and literary websites. A
Selina has performed her poetry at a range of venues and festivals in New Zealand and internationally, and her work has been translated into Ukrainian and Spanish. in April 2016 Selina performed a poem for HRH Queen Elizabeth at the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey. When approached to be the the official Commonwealth Poet for 2016 Selina was given a few challenging parameters. Her poem had to be less than 3 minutes long, it had to represent all 53 nations of the Commonwealth and appeal to school children, royalty, dignitaries and heads of state, and it could not be political*. Selina rose to the challenge and her poem ‘Unity’ was well received by all . Selina’s acclaimed international performances have also included being selected to represent Tuvalu in the Poetry Olympics that took place around the United Kingdom during the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. She was selected from among 6000 nominations to participate in the event, which featured over 200 poets. As part of the event Selena performed a piece about the impact of global warming on the low-lying nation.
Selina’s first poetry collection Fast Talking PI met with national acclaim, winning the New Zealand Post Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award in 2010 and made the top 5 Best Sellers List shortly after publication. The judges commented “the featured verse is sensuous but strong, using lush imagery and clear rhythms and repetitions to power it forward.” The poem humorously addresses stereotypes and misconceptions of ‘PI’s’. Selina’s poetry often surveys the experiences of Pacific people living in New Zealand, in her poem ‘Ali’i’ she highlights the important work of prominent Pacific/New Zealander’s within the arts. In ‘Guys like Gauguin’ and ‘Realpolitik’ Selina delves into Pacific histories and colonial encounters in the Pacific region. In this collection Selina also explores identity issues and her mixed cultural heritage. Fast Talking PI was released in the United Kingdom and also toured throughout Northern England and Derry.
Selina has published three refereed journal articles and 14 book chapters, including a recent chapter in Mark Williams' A History of New Zealand Literature (2016), titled 'Nafanua and the New World: Pasifika's Writing of Niu Zealand.’ As Chair of the South Pacific Association of Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies (SPACLALS), Selina has edited four literary journals and hosted three Pacific Literature conferences. Selina’s poetry has featured in a range of online literary journals, including Blackmail Press and nzepc, and her writing features in Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English, Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English - Whetu Moana II, Best New Zealand Poems 2006, and Niu Voices: Contemporary Pacific Fiction 1. Marsh is currently writing (or completed?) a book about first-wave (1974-2011) Pacific women poets (forthcoming from the University of Hawai’i).