A lyrical, poetic essay collection that blends memoir with powerful writing on the natural world, taking us from London to New Zealand, Shanghai to Malaysia - from the winner of the Nan Shepherd Prize.
Home is many people and places and languages, some separated by oceans.
Where is the place your body is anchored? Which body of water is yours? Is it that I've anchored myself in too many places at once, or nowhere at all? The answer lies somewhere between.
Nina Mingya Powles first learned to swim in Borneo - where her mother was born and her grandfather studied freshwater fish. There, the local swimming pool became her first body of water. Through her life there have been others that have meant different things, but have still been, in their own way, home: from the wild coastline of New Zealand to a pond in northwest London.
This collection of essays explores the bodies of water that separate and connect us, as well as everything from migration, food, family, earthquakes, and the ancient lunisolar calendar to butterflies. In lyrical, powerful prose, Small Bodies of Water weaves together personal memories, dreams and nature writing. It reflects on a girlhood spent growing up between two cultures, and explores what it means to belong.
Nina Mingya Powles is a writer, editor and publisher from Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the author of the poetry collections field notes on a downpour, Luminescent and Magnolia, which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. She is also the author of Tiny Moons: A Year of Eating in Shanghai. In 2019 she won the inaugural Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing, for Small Bodies of Water, and in 2018 she won the Women Poets' Prize. She is the founding editor of Bitter Melon, a small press that publishes limited-edition pamphlets by Asian poets. She was born in Aotearoa, partly grew up in China, and now lives in London.
@ninamingya | ninapowles.com