Pacific Poet Talks Climate Change and Womanhood in New Book

Set against a backdrop of a deteriorating environment and a devastating pandemic, Brown-Pereira leans into discomfort, exploring topics such as climate change, women’s sensuality, the Samoa general elections and the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Saturday 24 June 2023, Apia Samoa. A new poetry book by Samoan-Cook Islands poet Audrey Brown-Pereira sold out at the official launch in Samoa held at Coffee Roaster in Togafu’afu’a on Saturday.

a-wake-(e)nd is Audrey’s third poetry book and is a colourful exploration of what life is like freed from the convention of what it is to be a ‘good Pacific Island woman’.

Brown-Pereira wrote the book in Samoa, turning a ‘mid-life crisis into opportunity’. It is the renowned author’s third collection.

“My first two books were about finding where I belonged in the homelands of my birth parents – the Cook Islands, and Sāmoa; and exploring the challenges of marriage, being a mother, and being ‘myself’ in a Sāmoa that I had not been raised in’.

Audrey Brown-Pereira with her family at the book launch.

Brown-Pereira is the birth daughter of Sīlī Epa Tuioti and Rosemary Araiti and chosen daughter of Metua and Matangaro Brown of the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

“With a-wake-(e)nd I am asserting the independence of self, and wanting more –  through the rewriting of lines of what it is to be my very own ‘version’ of a Pacific island woman” she explains.

Set against a backdrop of a deteriorating environment and a devastating pandemic, Brown-Pereira leans into discomfort, exploring topics such as climate change, women’s sensuality, the Samoa general elections, the death of Queen Elizabeth II and witnessing her daughters grow into young women with minds of their own.

More than conceptually subversive, Brown-Pereira’s writing also challenges the constraints of form with innovation, playing with words on the page.

Ockham award-shortlisted writer, Serie Barford reflects on this, saying the words “dance in liminal spaces, resist devolution, and circumnavigate conventions”.

Emceed by Taaitulagi Tuioti, the launch was a celebration of writing and creativity, with the presence of Samoan women trailblazers Momoe Malietoa von Reiche, Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma Kruse Va’ai, Professor Silafau Sina Va’ai, Sia Figiel and Lani Wendt Young.

Book launch Sat 24 June 2023, Coffee Roaster.

Sponsored by Ma’ali Company, Niu Pharmacy, Apia Supermarket and Liquor Planet, business woman and retired teacher Mrs. Alamita Pereira thanked the intimate gathering of family and friends, for their support of her daughter-in-law, who is married to her eldest son Benjamin Pereira.

Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma Kruse Va’ai congratulated the poet for this key milestone and shared her insights into a-wake-(e)nd.

Dr Kruse Vaai highlighted the creative symbolism of Brown-Pereira’s work on the page as text and in the air through her performance, creating a sense of belonging and women empowerment; amplifying the impacts of climate change on Pacific island people with the global target of 1.5 degrees Celsius threaded throughout her collection.

Family and friends at book launch of a-wake-(e)nd, Sat 24 June 2023.

Emerging Rotuman writer Ruby Lupe Macomber finds energy and solace in a-wake-(e)nd saying, “for the Brown girl, Brown-Pereira’s words are prayers of resistance, resilience and celebration.”

Tagaloa Cooper, Director of Climate Change Resilience for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and senior colleague of the poet, shared a closing blessing of the occasion.

a-wake-(e)nd is the second release from independent Pacific publisher Saufo’i Press. Launched in Samoa on June 24, 2023.

Books are now available at www.saufoipress.com