My Urohs by Emelihter Kihleng

a nutshell: this is the first collection of poetry by a Pohnpeian poet, sharing lyrical insights into what it’s like to be a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia

a line: “you think you’re so educated but haven’t a clue about what it means to be colonised when was the last time you planted something in the ground and felt like a real man? when was the last time you listened to the silence?” (‘Ngih Kohl’)

an image: mouth-watering descriptions of food & drink recur throughout the collection, for instance in ‘A meal fit for a soupeidi’ Kihleng describes a dish of canned mackerel, calamansi limes, salt, breadfruit cooked with coconut milk & sugar, washed down with a glug of coconut

a thought: I learned a lot from this collection e.g. in ‘Destiny Fulfilled?’, Kihleng is critical of how Micronesian soldiers were killed fighting in the US’s War on Terror (“she is a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia “freely associated” with the United States of America she could die for America our friendly thug soldier … brown islanders signing away their freedom on islands seized by “liberation” 60 years before); also, in ‘Pohnpei Seringiring’, she writes of how apathy suffocates their lush, tropical island – with no one caring about the landslides killing people or the sediment pouring into oceans choking the reefs

a fact: Kihleng dedicates the titular poem to her mother, who conducted ethnographic research in Saladak, Pohnpeil, and wrote a doctoral dissertation about Pohnpeian women – she continues to inspire Kihleng’s writing (another fact: Pohnpei is matrilineal, in that one’s clan membership is earned through the mother)

want to read My Urohs? visit here