Always Italicise: How to write while colonised

Paperback: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9780824897369
Published: December 2023

Additional Information

88 pages


  • Winner of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, 2023
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  • About the Book
  • A first book of poetry from acclaimed Māori writer and scholar Alice Te Punga Somerville.

    Shrink-wrapped, vacuum-packed, disassembled, sold for parts,
    butt of jokes, scapegoats, too this for that, too that for this,
    gravy trains, too angry, special treatment, let it go . . .

    “Always italicise foreign words,” a friend of the author was advised. In her first book of poetry, Māori scholar and poet Alice Te Punga Somerville does just that. In wit and anger, sadness and aroha, she reflects on “how to write while colonised”—how to write in English as a Māori writer; how to trace links between Aotearoa and wider Pacific, Indigenous and colonial worlds; how to be the only Māori person in a workplace; and how—and why—to do the mahi anyway.

    I wanted to pick up baby, and I wanted to pick a fight:
    The eternal
    Waitangi Day dilemma.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Alice Te Punga Somerville, Author

      Alice Te Punga Somerville (Te Āti Awa) is a scholar, poet, and irredentist. She researches and teaches Māori, Pacific, and Indigenous texts in order to center Indigenous expansiveness and de-center colonialism. Te Punga Somerville currently is professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures and the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia. Prior to joining UBC in 2021, she taught Māori and Indigenous studies at the University of Waikato and has held academic positions in Australia, Hawai‘i, and elsewhere in New Zealand. Her first book, Once Were Pacific: Māori Connections to Oceania (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), won Best First Book from the Native American & Indigenous Studies Association. Her thought-provoking second book is Two Hundred and Fifty Ways to Start an Essay about Captain Cook (Bridget Williams Books, 2020).
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • With verve and vulnerability, Alice Te Punga Somerville grapples with the power of language. This poetry collection is an anti-abyss of shame. Unsquashable, honest, and kind. Always Italicise is a tender study of tellings (and re-tellings) of how we ‘become our own ancestors and our own descendants,’ and I will be returning to poems like ‘Rākau’ for years to come. Mahalo for this palimpsest of rage, faith, and recognition.
      —No‘u Revilla, author of Ask the Brindled
    • Alice Te Punga Somerville’s collection, Always Italicise: How to Write While Colonised, voyages out like a waka seeking new ground, visiting four areas of life: language in Reo, identity in Invisible Ink, work in Mahi and love in Aroha. Readers are challenged but crucially invited in to accept that challenge and reach a new understanding of what it is to be a Māori woman scholar, mother and wife in 2022, encountering and navigating uncomfortable and hostile spaces. Always Italicise shines for its finely crafted, poetically fluent and witty explorations of racism, colonisation, class, language and relationships. A fine collection, establishing and marking a new place to stand.
      —Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry, Ockham New Zealand Book Awards (2023 winner)