25 Jun 2021

New book celebrates talents of Vanuatu women

11:23 am on 25 June 2021

Vanuatu is to launch a literary first today with an anthology of women's writing.

The new book features work from three generations of women spanning from just 20 to an octogenarian.

Sista, Stanap Strong! contains poetry, fiction, essay, memoir and song.

Sista, Stanap Strong!

Sista, Stanap Strong! Photo: RNZI

Its stories span from the late 1800s blackbirding era, when raiders seized labourers for Queensland's plantations, to independence in 1980 and the present day.

Most writers are resident in Vanuatu with others in New Zealand, Fiji, Canada and Solomon Islands.

Sista, Stanap Strong! tackles subjects including racism, colonialism and sexism head-on through a Vanuatu women's lens.

The book's co-editor Mikaela Nyman says the work aims to balance the entirely male historical narrative since Vanuatu was the colonial New Hebrides.

"Whether you're French or British and so forth. And that's a very narrow perspective but the women seldom get to tell their piece and they were of course were not the ones in power," said Nyman.

"And so this is really trying to rectify the previous record, both historical but also the literary ones. Let the women speak too."

Poet Selina Tusitala Marsh called it astute and emotionally honest.

The launch and mini writers festival runs this Friday at the Vanuatu National Museum in Port Vila.

Mikaela Nyman

Mikaela Nyman Photo: Ebony Lamb Photography