Introducing Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu – Manifest Differently Poet

Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu is a Tongan/Pacific Islander scholar, storyteller and community organizer. Her literary work, community service and academic research are all interconnected and they center issues of: climate and environmental justice, ending violence against women, prison abolition and restorative justice and the protection of Indigenous sacred sites here in the Bay Area such as the West Berkeley Shellmound. She graduated with her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2019 and is a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow and Facilitator of the Oceania Research Working Group in the Department of Native American Studies at University of California, Davis. In Fall 2023, she became an Assistant Professor of Oceania: Pacific Islands Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Fui is working with Pacific Islander writers and artists at the University of Hawai’i to organize exchange programs and collaborations to create: public talks, symposiums and publications between the UH and UC Santa Cruz with goals to introduce and to expand Pacific Islander literature and arts to a wider audience that includes the Bay Area, California.

LA Story

the bright lights of the city
surround her like flies

she mumbles a prayer learned in Sunday school
and holds on tightly to the cold air
funnels through her fingers
like the daughter her parents couldn’t keep

two weeks ago she fled her home in Utah
fleeing the grasp of the Mormon Church
and her parents’ shame,
freshly pickled
like the apricots church leaders taught her
to preserve every Autumn
a skill that promised
to make her into a good wife

tonight, on the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard,
bright lights expose the blue bruises on her body
disguising her as an older woman
she is her mother, her grandmother
lingering in dark corners
abandoning guests and
the tedium of polite conversations

she telephones her mother
pleading for her life
for a cusp of warmth to quell the cold

she imagines that their shared silences
histories of bruised abdomen and
crushed collarbones
at the hands of men
were reasons enough
to reconnect them
bury the aching distance and
reunite them

but the silence on the other end
hangs and festers like a wound
she is reminded
that in her family,
there are

Led by Clarion Alley Mural ProjectManifest Differently, a new project developed by Megan Wilson and Kim Shuck. Over 2023/24, we are working together with 38 diverse, multigenerational visual/media artists and poets to interrogate the history of Manifest Destiny and its legacies of inherited and perpetuated violence, trauma, and addiction. The outgrowth of resistance and resilience – giving fire to movements for social/ culture change. The project will be presented in 2023/24 at three locations – Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP), Artists’ Television Access (ATA), and Minnesota Street Project.