Karlo Mila was born in Rotorua, New Zealand. She earned her BA from Massey University and worked for ten years in labor organizing and health research before earning her PhD in sociology. Mila is of Tongan, Samoan, and European descent, and both her poetry and scholarship focus on the personal and political realities of Pasifika identity. Her first book, Dream Fish Floating (2006), won an NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry. She collaborated with German artist Delicia Sampero on her second collection, the image-text A Well Written Body (2008). Of the challenges Pacific writers face, Mila has said this: “We are barely in print; [and] we are constantly fed a diet of other peoples’ stories and experiences. … We must be the protagonists wrought by our own pens, not shadows in other people’s stories.”
Mila is the recipient of a Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency and represented Tonga at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad event Poetry Parnassus Festival in London. She lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand.