The poetry of Jully Makini

Civilized Girl, Jully Makini, 1981

  • Solomon Islands, #3
  • Read September 2016
  • Various internet sources (see below)
  • Opening Line: Cheap perfume/ Six inch heels/ Skin-tight pants/ Civilized girl

Another day, another Pacific Island poetry collection briefly skimmed on Google Books. Jully Makini’s 1981 collection Civilized Girl is the official selection of my list. However, it proved somewhat elusive and as I may have mentioned elsewhere I’m not hugely entertained by poetry collections in general, so instead I read a smattering of her work that I found around the web. This included a few from Flotsam and Jetsam available on Google Books, and the title poem from Civilized Girl, here accompanied by a brief interview with the poet. It’s another poem in the vein of Kauraka Kauraka’s Shadowed Head, a criticism of a Melanesian woman attempting to embrace western beauty ideals. It comes off as a little more sympathetic than Kauraka’s work as it’s written from the perspective of the woman rather than an external critic…but in the interview Makini says it’s not her, she doesn’t do those things (eyebrow plucking, hair straightening, heel wearing, etc.). So instead of being paternalistic, it’s a little bit more mean-girlish.

But I like her poetry. It’s a little obvious most of the time, and none of it’s mind-blowingly beautiful, but it is both evocative and rhythmic, making it a serious step up from a lot of the stuff I’ve come across so far in this project.


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