Over Hear

Lisa Samuels grew up in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. Her first poetry book The Seven Voices (O Books 1998) emerged alongside her PhD dissertation (Virginia 1997), a study of modernist poetry and critical practice. She has also published five poetry books with Shearsman; a letterpress book of poems and drawings, Mama Mortality Corridos (Holloway 2010); several poetry chapbooks; a childhood memoir, Anti M (Chax 2013); and an experimental novel, Tender Girl (Dusie 2015). Her soundwork includes a 2-CD version of her book Tomorrowland (Shearsman 2009), now being made into a film by director Wes Tank, and her writing has inspired musical scores by composer Frédéric Pattar and others. Her essays focus on transculturalism, genre, identity and the body, the digitas, and imagining what we don’t know, and her editing work includes A TransPacific Poetics, co-edited with Sawako Nakayasu and forthcoming from Litmus Press. In 2006 she moved from the U.S. to Aotearoa/New Zealand, where she teaches writing, literature, and theory and lives with her family in Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland. In the first half of 2016 she’ll live back in the U.S., working on new writings and sound art in Seattle.


Over Hear: six types of poetic experiment in Aotearoa/New Zealand
By Lisa Samuels • 2015 • 45 pages • $13 • ISBN 978-0-9891861-6-2
Design by Allison Hanabusa


Lisa Samuels’s long essay proposes an expansive set of definitions of six modes of experimental poetry in Aotearoa/New Zealand. An American poet, critic and scholar who has lived and worked in Auckland since 2006, Lisa Samuels examines these modes in the work of Albert Wendt, Jen Crawford, David Kārena-Holmes, Ya-Wen Ho, Murray Edmond, Kelly Malone and others. This essay is essential reading for anyone engaged with experimental poetry in the Pacific. Samuels’s method is inclusive; she writes about Māori, Pakeha (white) and Asian writers in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The books will also be important to anyone engaged in experimental writing in English, or in contemporary poetry more generally. That there is writing in the Pacific that is indubitably experimental has long been an argument of this press. This essay, along with Rob Wilson’s Pacific Postmodern, published originally by Tinfish Press, lays out some of that oceanic field.


from Over Hear: six types of poetic experiment in Aotearoa/New Zealand:

This liquid metaphor is particularly relevant in a context keenly aware of its oceanic emplacement. As the Fijian writer Epeli Hau‘ofa clarifies in his essay ‘Our Sea of Islands’ (1993), water is as much a place as the land around it. The conceptual negative of water is as positive a negation as its posited contrast (i.e. land), and such reversables are as much part of genre theory as they are of genres. This essay uses experimental poetry as the watery genre denominator for which each of the six poetic types serves as fluid numerator. Though the term innovative has its champions, the term experimental situates poetry in laboratories of language, where it thrives in multiple forms and admixtures.