Poetry Shelf favoruite poems: essa may ranapiri’s ‘Standing at the front of a room delivering a karakia’

Standing at the front of a room delivering a karakia

for Apirana Taylor 

I’m so colonized I put zeds in the colonize / always look to the centre and find a reflection / reading a prayer off my phone coz I can’t hold my own language / my moment of tihei mauriora / my monument to shame / the keri bottles funding deathsquads for the USA / you heard me through the mist of ones and zeroes my stubborn guide through te pō / can we calculate a multiplicity inside a black hole / or / can I sing of the wind in a room that lets no breeze through / is this whare so different from yours / was your north the same as mine / the south the same as mine / as yours as mine is as ours / what tip comes back red except that which is slowly/ killing me / dip inside my insides and see / a plastic plastic person / trying to deliver tikanga from a smartphone / uber eats auto-kaitangata / until nothing but my bones are left / shone white / innard-draped / on the carpet

essa may ranapiri
Originally published in Sweet Mammalian Issue Six in 2019

This piece was written as a response to ‘Sad Joke on a Marae’ by Apirana Taylor, my own attempt at representing the inherent connection we have to our ancestors and our land despite all the contradictions we exist within. I’m not going to unlock what I think the poem does here because what a ruinous way to talk about your own work but one thing I will say is that I love the phrase ‘uber eats auto-kaitangata’ a lot cos I’m that kind of sicko (lol) and have no memory of writing that phrase. Also this did happen I delivered the karakia for a communist film night where we watched Operation 8 (documentary about the Te Urewera raids), gosh, the state does indeed suck. Mana to all the amazing taangata Tuuhoe I know that are doing that revolutionary work! And thx to Api for writing a sick as shit poem all those years ago.

essa may ranapiri
 (Ngaati Raukawa, Te Arawa, Ngaati Puukeko, Clan Gunn) is a person who lives on Ngaati Wairere whenua. Author of ransack and ECHIDNA. PhD student looking at how poetry by taangata takataapui engages atuatanga. Co-editor of Kupu Toi Takataapui | Takataapui Literary Journal with Michelle Rahurahu. They have a great love for language, LAND BACK and hot chips. Thanks as always goes to their ancestors, who are everything. They will write until they’re dead.

This is part of an ongoing Poetry Shelf series where poets pick a favourite poem from their own backlist and write a note to go with it.

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