Day 29: Do what no one has to tell you to do
From Selina Tusitala Marsh, poet, scholar, and graphic memoirist
“Wot knot you got?” “That’s a wot-job knot!” (Drawing by Selina Tusitala Marsh)
Are you doing your dream job? Some of us are. Some of us aren’t. But what if you could find a way to infuse the one thing that “no one EVER has to tell you to do” into the job you’re doing now?
Let me tell you my story. I was the first Pacific Islander (Samoan and Tuvaluan bloodlines) to be selected as Poet Laureate of Aotearoa New Zealand. My academic research focuses on marginalized Pacific literary voices, so I wanted to offer a positive, vibrant counter to negative stereotypes about Pacific Islanders in the media. But I couldn’t be the kind of traditional Poet Laureate that everyone expected me to be.
Instead, I took the one thing that no one EVER has to tell me to do – doodling, scrawling, playing with line and picture-making – and created a children’s book character called Mophead, who gets teased as a child for her kinky hair but later grows up to be the Poet Laureate.
When the children at the schools I visited asked Mophead for advice on their knottiest problems, I turned their questions around and encouraged them to be “led by line” to their own solutions. Now drawn lines infuse my academic work as well as my children’s books; I interweave spoken, written, drawn, blood, and land lines to create decolonial spaces in which to read Pacific Literature. Doodling, in other words, has become part of my job!
Do Mini-Mophead’s graphic exercise (have fun - you don’t have to be an artist!) and draw yourself in your dream job. Then freewrite in response to the following question: “How can I infuse my scholarly writing with the one thing that no one EVER has to tell me to do?”
Selina Tusitala Marsh, poet, scholar, and graphic memoirist