Tag Archives: Essa May Ranapiri

Poetry Shelf connections: essa may ranapiri’s ‘TANGIHANGA IN THE TIME OF COVID19’

 

 

TANGIHANGA IN THE TIME OF COVID19

 

how do we say      farewell how

 

do we make sure that our loved

 

ones make it over the cape

 

when we can’t stay with them

 

in their last

 

it’s only two

 

metres

 

a

 

part

 

 

essa may ranapiri

 

 

 

essa told me they would like this poem to be the start of a conversation among Maaori and Pasifika writers. ‘Poetry can bring us together,’ they hope.

I am happy to offer a connecting space ‘for Maaori and Pasifika writers to deal with and or celebrate whatever during this time’.

paulajoygreen@gmail.com   If I don’t answer your email within three or four days nudge me please.

 

essa may ranapiri, Ngāti Raukawa, is a poet from Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa. They graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington (2018) and their work has appeared in many local journals. They are the featured poet in Poetry Yearbook 2020 (Massey University Press). ransack has been longlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards 2020.

 

essa may ranapiri website

Victoria University Press page

The Pantograph Punch Jackson Nieuwland reviews ransack

RNZ interview

Poetry Shelf: essa reads ‘Glass Breaking’

essa on being at IIML with Tayi Tibble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Poetry Shelf summer reading: essa may ranapiri’s ransack

 

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ransack, essa may ranapiri, Victoria University, 2019

 

 

 

he is like a bumblebee stinger on my tongue when I say it’

from ‘Dear Orlando’

 

 

 

essa may ranapiri begins their debut poetry collection ransack with a quote from Virginia Woolf’s gender-switching Orlando: ‘Ransack the language as he might, words failed him. He wanted another landscape, and another tongue.’

When I was doing my doctoral thesis (Italian) I carried a Virginia Woolf quote from A Room of One’s Own with me and I still do: ‘Mary is tampering with the expected sequence.  First she broke the sentence; now she has broken the sequence. Very well, she has every right to do both these things if she does them not for the sake of breaking, but for the sake of creating.’

Sometimes we need to break language, to smash how we do things in order to begin again, in order to find form and fluidity for our voices. Sometime language fails us. Sometimes we have to smash muteness and test our way into a new musicality, a new sequence of connections. We may be fierce and we may be vulnerable.

I dipped in and out of ransack last year, and loved every snatched moment, but a few weekends ago I sat down in the cool shade and read the book slowly, cover to cover, and felt myself upturn, overturn, inturn and sideturn as the poetry pulsed through my being (I am thinking of that as a verb). This is what a book can do.

essa’s book is a glorious sequence of creating – of ransacking what has been, in order to refresh what will be. Letters written to Orlando make an appearance – like a epistle spine for the collection or a poetry pivot for both reader and writer.

The opening poem ‘my tongue as rope’ lays down a thicket image – the kind of image that hooks you, especially when you think of  writing, speaking and even self as braid. The braided rope is the anchor, the preserver, the tough knot, ‘the single knot’, the finder.

essa writes: to pull in sound / draw in lists / the endeavour hits the land’. Can the poems be a form of rope? ‘my tongue-rope wraps itself until it is a single knot.’

A single poem breaks apart in my mouth and heart. The break in the flow creates a new current.

 

 

fetal

 

a mothe

r returnin

g to the grown ground like a gow

n of weeds got a stretching motion

n to stil

l body corps

e the wood in the wax in the flowe

r chains a bab

y stil

l bor

n rattling i

n the mutton skie

s chubby in the loa

m to no mor

e

 

Reading ransack allows me to absorb the nonbinary experience afresh. Unsettling the line on the page unsettles the line of thought, the entrenched dichotomies of either / or / male / female / she / he / soft / hard / weak / strong

A long poem ‘Con-ception’ is dedicated to essa’s mother and is a reading explosion of arrival, pregnancy, forming embryo, forming mother. I have never read a piece that breaks into and out of the maternal that has affected me so much. I am going to give you a quote that is also right-hand margin justified, but not all the book is (the forms are dancing on their toes in an exuberant display of variousness:

 

in the world and into the world of tubes

ride the machine

incubate in plastic

and drench in yellow light

the air is whole new in-the-world

and out of the old world

recognise voices

am i

an i?

 

put in

alove?

When she finally has a shower afterwards she is crying.

 

Reading the ransack sequences and I am feeling poetry. essa tells Orlando ‘You never had to discover yourself in a book. You never questioned your gendered nature – you moved from one perfect set of genitalia to another according to Aristophanes and the great round people of concave and convex, of female and male.’

essa places body and experience at its white hot core – a gift in its sharpness, its broken cutting lines and its sweet fluencies as the writer navigates how to be, how to be body, how to be bodymindheart in the world. Part of the writing of experience, with that backstory sting of ‘he’, is claiming name, celebrating a pronoun:

 

u said you liked the ‘th’ sound in they and them the softening of it

and how it fitted around my rage

made it/for it

to be okay to touch

i talk you through other constructions

ones that subverted phonetics

me as a slice of not that

when expecting this

the xe sound like zay

 

from ‘a phone call about the nature of pronouns gendered and otherwise’

 

ransack is a skin-prickling, heart-blasting, mind-opening glorious feast of a book that in the spirit of Virginia breaks up language in order to create something breathtakingly new.

 

 

 

essa may ranapiri, Ngāti Raukawa, is a poet from Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa. They graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington (2018) and their work has appeared in many local journals. They are the featured poet in Poetry Yearbook 2020 (Massey University Press). ransack has been longlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards 2020.

 

essa may ranapiri website

Victoria University Press page

The Pantograph Punch Jackson Nieuwland reviews ransack

RNZ interview

Poetry Shelf: essa reads ‘Glass Breaking’

essa on being at IIML with Tayi Tibble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf audio spot: essa may ranapiri reads ‘Glass Breaking ‘

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essa may ranapiri reads ‘Glass Breaking’ from ransack VUP 2019

 

 

 

essa may ranapiri is a river full of run-off and a mountain that is money-gated, tangata takatāpui trapped in a colonised world. Their first book ransack is out from VUP now., please buy it they’re so poor. They write these poems to honour their tūpuna, they will write until they’re dead.

Victoria University Press page

 

Poetry Shelf on Poetry Day: essa may ranapiri’s ‘it’s 2019 and things like this are still happening’

it’s 2019 and things like this are still happening

pull the rock wall down in large chunks
the calendar didn’t make
that which hangs over the whenua
just disappear did it?
this nation state of
white-is-right
of slash-and-burn of
divide-and-conquer

New fucking Zealand
in all its truest colours

five years of struggle
or is it two-hundred-and-fifty-five years
without end without end without
a single word from the mouth of power
that can be trusted

(Jacinda I hope you didn’t think you could escape the poem unscathed)

fighting against a company that keeps a name of an honest job
to mask the fact they’re colonisers chasing a profit motive
scaffolding a claim out of iwi-consultation
gone gold-panning for the first race traitor they can find

on this land?!

where the sky has come down to hide our whereabouts
in the fog
Ranginui weeps at the sight
we have always belonged
in the āke ake ake! that pushes solidarity through the mist
we are connected to so much more than a margin

the pigs have some nerve to suggest
we’re trespassing here

and the drums

and the drums
are going and they’re standing crisp in blue uniform
all ordered to be here
just doing their jobs
what is the labour value of guarding a paddock
what is the bonus you get from terrifying our tamariki?

and the drums are going
and we’re singing
mana motuhake
we’re standing arms locked together
in the spirit of Parihaka
the pole of a flag to hold onto
our independence
in the disappointment it’s still happening here
on the land
we are kaitiaki
and we will not let you exchange Her mauri for a paycheque
in 2019 and every year after that
until you fucking stop
until you understand
where we stand is where we will always
stand
on the whenua that we are
and are one with

 

essa may ranapiri

 

essa may ranapiri is a river full of run-off and a mountain that is money-gated, tangata takatāpui trapped in a colonised world. Their first book ransack is out from VUP now., please buy it they’re so poor. They write these poems to honour their tūpuna, they will write until they’re dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: @pantographpunch Jackson Nieuwland reviews essa may ranapiri’s ransack

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Jackson Nieuwland reviews essa may ranapiri’s debut collection of poetry.

ransack is a landmark in Aotearoa publishing. A collection by an openly takatāpui/nonbinary poet, writing explicitly about queer issues and experiences, published by Aotearoa’s largest publisher of poetry. I and many others have been waiting for this for a long time, longer than we ourselves have even realised, and essa may ranapiri has delivered it for us: a book that speaks to our experience, a book full of beauty and pain.

go here. It’s a terrific review!

Poetry Shelf Friday piece: essa may ranapiri picks 3 poetry books

 

 

 

R.S Thomas Selected Poems: having been raised nominally Christian these poems really spoke to me. God present in an impoverished Welsh countryside. The hollowed-out chest of faith really comforted me in my own struggle with the giant white Christ and his expectations. There is still one poem that I go back to often called ‘January’ with a line that sticks to me like a stain when referring to blood; ‘Soft as excrement, bold as roses.’

 

Beast Feast by Cody-Rose Clevidence: the first time I ever read another nonbinary poet. This book is a mess of tangled syntax and language-poop. It made me feel seen in form and message in a way I hadn’t felt before. ‘Queerness necessitates a radicalised language’ – this line still guides the poetry I write.

 

The Silences Between by Keri Hulme: I think I read most of this in a local bookstore and it was my introduction to Keri Hulme’s work. The use of conversation in the poems, and the movement between stanzas as their own call and response, is magic. I love how she uses setting in her poetry; we are dipped in the sea and pushed along the sandbars. A question that sticks with me is one Rowley Habib asks in the book ‘Where are your bones’ and this is driving the work I’m doing now, both the sentiment of the question and the act of making connections with other Māori poets/work.  This book plays with connection and alienation, and lives inside the strange, which is a place I live in and want to live in with my work.

 

essa may ranapiri: (Ngāti Raukawa | they/them/theirs) if they die before the end of the settler colonial nation state of NZ you owe them a revolution [their first book of poetry ransack out from VUP in 2019.

Victoria University Press page

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