Islands in isolation by Jess Marama


Jess Marama reads her own poem, Islands in isolation, written in response to the exhibition Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Ani O'Neill 'etu iti
Colelction of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū; purchased 2018

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Island in isolation,

digital postcards -

the new greeting.

An orchestra of familiar voices,

laughing and crying their way to our virtual doorsteps.


He sets off in his grand-fathers waka,

across the hallway to the next house party.

A waiting room of his aunties

shout at him,





Declined / mute / delete …….on to the next Zoom meeting


A network of raffia stars holds the space between the walls together.

The hull, full of supplies-the salvation of humankind

Don’t rock the boat.

He loses his passport over the side.

Tuna, who is guarding the journey,

slaps his tale upon the surface of the water

and takes away his name.

He won’t be travelling home for some-time now,

not with these border restrictions.