Coconut Milk is a fresh, new poetry collection that is a sensual homage to place, people, love, and lust. The first collection by Samoan writer and painter Dan Taulapapa McMullin, the poems evoke both intimate conversations and provocative monologues that allow him to explore the complexities of being a queer Samoan in the United States.
McMullin seamlessly flows between exposing the ironies of Tiki kitsch–inspired cultural appropriation and intimate snapshots of Samoan people and place. In doing so, he disrupts popular notions of a beautiful Polynesia available for the taking, and carves out new avenues of meaning for Pacific Islanders of Oceania. Throughout the collection, McMullin illustrates various manifestations of geopolitical, cultural, linguistic, and sexual colonialism. His work illuminates the ongoing resistance to colonialism and the remarkable resilience of Pacific Islanders and queer-identified peoples.
McMullin’s Fa’a Fafine identity—the ability to walk between and embody both the masculine and feminine—creates a grounded and dynamic voice throughout the collection. It also fosters a creative dialogue between Fa’a Fafine people and trans-Indigenous movements. Through a uniquely Samoan practice of storytelling, McMullin contributes to the growing and vibrant body of queer Indigenous literature.
About the Author
Dan Taulapapa McMullin is a Samoan American poet, artist, and painter based in California.
"This book gave me a lot to think about as a reader even while leaving me envious of his crafting of poems. You know you impress another poet when they think, 'Wow, I wish I’d written that!'"—Anita Endrezze in The Raven Chronicles “McMullin’s style is sometimes conversational and performative, and sometimes focused on the poetry on the page. He has some simply stunning images, and I appreciate his refusal of translation. He balances humor, rage, and the erotic through his words.”—Qwo-Li Driskill, author of Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature
“McMullin’s Coconut Milk is a brilliant collection of both narrative and avant-garde poems descended from traditional storytelling that give voice to Samoan fa'afafine culture as it continues to flourish in Samoa and in the colonial diaspora.”—Brandy Nalani McDougall, author of The Salt-Wind: Ka Makani Pa’Akai
“Tiki decor, as the advert says, can remind you and your customers of an exotic and tropical climate. The question posed by Dan Taulapapa McMullin's Coconut Milk is whether we want to be reminded of an exotic and tropical climate, that is to say, of the reality of an exotic and tropical climate, which may be humid, might be fetid, could be bee-stung with breezy beauty, as foreign and falsely friendly as our very own backyards, and as our own sense of family, who we keep, at our peril, in our back seats. Where you might, at your peril, keep these bristling lines.”—Vanessa Place, author of Statement of Facts
“With searing perception, honesty and lyricism, Dan’s words dance off the page and find their way to our hearts. Poignant, moving, dynamic in scope, Coconut Milk is but a window into the harsh realities that face Samoans and Pacific Islanders who have navigated the geography and psychology of living in and for America. From boyhood innocence on an American territory, to coming of age discoveries, to the complexities of a closeted existence, to his own adult liberation, Dan’s story is ours. It is our history. Our herstory. Our struggle. But most importantly, the political, the violence, the vulnerabilities, the cultural awakenings, the juxtapositions, the paradoxes, the contradictions of Coconut Milk is our song of survival. Essential and crucial, Coconut Milk should be tasted at tiki bars, universities, back seats of cars, church halls, community centers, raw food restaurants, gay bars, straight bars, any bar, war zones, military bases and especially in the halls of congress where it should be required reading! And to Pacific Islanders both at home and in the diaspora, Coconut Milk just cleared the path. MegaLOVE!”—Sia Figiel, author of Sia Figiel: They Who Do Not Grieve
“Dan Taulapapa McMullin’s poems come at you with a beguiling openness, honesty, irony, humour, and compassion. I love their surface simplicity which draws you into their profound complexities of meaning and feeling. In short, I love them.”—Albert Wendt, author of Leaves of the Banyan Tree
"A must read!”—Rena Owen, Maori actress, writer, and director
“It was a sharp wit that grated the pithy coconut meat of American Samoan fa'afine intelligentsia experience and observation to produce the fine material in this collection of poetry. There is incisive cultural and political theorizing taking place here that holds its own with the best of scholarly insights. But there is also a sumptuous sexiness that oozes through the poems. The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands region have long known the nourishing qualities of Coconut Milk. With Dan Taulapapa McMullin’s new collection of poetry, I predict readers will find themselves in the position of both being luxuriously sated and panting for more.”—Teresia Teaiwa, author of Searching for Nei Nim’anoa