Opening of “Long Waves of our Ocean: New responses to Pacific poems” exhibition

Chris joined us at the National Library recently for the opening of  Long Waves of our Ocean: New responses to Pacific poems and premiered his poem, the longest wave as a response to the central place of poetry in the exhibition.

The title of the exhibition is a line from the poem Stepping Stones by Albert Wendt:

"...and our islands are your anchor and launching site
for the universes that repeat and repeat

like the long waves of our ocean like Tagaloaalagi’s
compulsive scrutiny of what is to come and fear"

— Peter Ireland

~~~the longest wave~~~

I run from the mountains / through urban sprawl / through shopping malls / through air-conditioned office buildings / I run from desperation / and headlong into a joy that I hope will crush me / I run from ransom notes left on shattered windscreens / dead ends / bad weeks that won’t end / I run from narrative and happy endings / history presented as spillage / everybody involved making a petty mess /  I run from storms swallowing the skies / through fire and locust plague / I run with zoo animals released back into the wild / like public servants unshackled from security clearances and !P@55wordS / I run from social media and porn bots / from influencers selling me plastic bodies / from the urge to sleep through the anthropocene / I run from Christmas decorations in October and hot cross buns in January / through time-lapse decay and benefits realisation / through the haze of burning press releases about liveable cities / I run from my embarrassing teenage poetry / from thinly veiled metaphors jumping in and out of closets / in and out of the shared body heat of a crowd / out of breath / out like a light / but still wired / let me sleep / through white noise and bird song / through neighbours’ squabbles about boundary lines / I run from borders / away from units and definitions / away from inboxes overflowing with flattering comments / I run from infographics and statistics / that explain why we are miserable / from proof of our self-inflictions / I run in search of direction / away from need and want / from could’ve, should’ve, would’ve / I run from the canon / from my catalogue of ailments / past the sun and moon locked in their orbits / past the billboards advertising an impossible future / away from the party / each of us saving the best parts for later / but never finding the time to enjoy / I am here for a good time / I am here in salt / preserved for good measure / I am the longest wave / stretching beyond myself / I run to be lost and found / I run towards land / I run home

— Chris Tse

Chris reading ~~~the longest wave~~~ at the opening of  Long Waves of our Ocean: New responses to Pacific poems, National Library, Wellington. Photo by Celeste Fontein.

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