Small bodies of water
This is an award-winning collection of essays by writer, editor and publisher, Nina Mingya Powles. Each essay explores the life affirming qualities of water, from raindrops on leaves to cups of tea, swimming pools to lakes and rivers, and the oceans that lap the lands she explores as home: Aotearoa, China, Malaysia, and England.
All the features of engaging autobiographical writing are here: self-disclosure, honesty and truth. Best known (so far) for her poetry, Powles explores her experiences and observations in lyrical and crystalline ways. Each essay is like a braided river – musings on the nature of things are woven through her personal narrative:
I learned about the seventy-two seasons, I obsessively translated and wrote down the most poetic ones I could find. I discovered that I was born during the month of lined clothing, in the solar term of summer’s arrival, in the season of the untangling of deer antlers.’ (from ‘Tender Gardens’)
Throughout the collection, the author’s bilingual explorations illuminate the nuances and origins of Chinese characters, both fascinating and tender.
For English teachers, this book provides accessible ways for rangatahi to tell their own stories. Readers will trust Nina Mingya Powles with their blossoming attention. There is an intimacy and welcome here that invites us all in to share a pot of Chrysanthemum tea.
Title: Small bodies of water
Author: Nina Mingya Powles
ISBN: 978 1 83885 215 3
Publication: September 2021
Ages: secondary Years 11-13
Themes: home, migration, cultural identity, family, food, growing up, dreams, nature.
Advisory warnings: none
Would this book work as a read-aloud? Yes
Is there a particular country that it’s set in? Aotearoa New Zealand, China, Malaysia, England
Reviewer: Nicola Easthope, Assistant HoD Senior English, Kāpiti College, Wellington.
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
Opening sentence: The swimming pool is on the edge of a hill overlooking the valley where the town begins.
You can buy this book here