Tag Archives: Essa May Ranapiri

Poetry Shelf poets on poems: Rachel Lockwood on essa may ranapiri’s ‘she cut her face shaving’

                             ‘She Cut Her Face Shaving’ essa may ranapiri

(from ransack, Victoria University Press, 2019)

essa may ranapiri’s work frequently explores the uncomfortable boundaries that exist in binary gender, and uses form and technique to push readers away from conventional approaches to both gender and poetry.  Everything in their piece ‘she cut her face shaving’ works to push the reader towards a new space, from the vocabulary and imagery to the way the lines are arranged on the page.

The arrangement of the work on the page exemplifies the subtle ways that ranapiri affects the reader. Rather than proceeding straight down the page, ‘she cut her face shaving’ begins to drift right from the second line. The final shape evokes images that reflect those in the poem – the drip of blood, the curve of a neck- but also reflect a preoccupation with resisting convention.  Throughout their collection ransack, words drift and explode across the page in varying arrangements. The visual aspect connects to the subject matter, which centres on ranapiri’s identity as a takatapui and non-binary individual. This poem is a microcosm of an effect found throughout this work- the reader’s eye is physically drawn away from conventional pattern, into a new space and shape that ranapiri has created.

Form and content collide again in the fifth line. Ending this line with the word testosterone is a confirmation of a non-cis experience that is only hinted at the beginning of the poem. Positioned at half-way, this line offers an opportunity to the reader to consider the first section in a new light, and prepares them for the impact of the second section. The deliberate use of pronoun  immediately afterwards reinforces this transitionary moment. The pronoun use is sparing throughout this work, but rich with meaning, drawing connection between ownership and the body. The title itself gives context to the poem, ‘her chin’ positions the reader as an outsider in this situation. Garments and body parts that could be ascribed ownership are not, instead they become ‘the pencil skirt’, ‘the hair’, ‘the jaw’. Ownership appears again in this vital fifth line- ‘that testosterone/ bought her’. After this moment, both the Adam’s apple and the ‘lateness’ become hers again. The pronouns here own this experience, and are unafraid to do so. 

The slash is a dominant feature of this poem, and serves multiple purposes. One that immediately pushes itself forward is the echo, again,  of the ink on the page and the action of the work. Lines that are not broken up by the slash are broken up instead by the line break. Nothing goes on for longer than four words. These short, sharp lines, remind the reader of the pattern of shaving, the short strokes, and in one particularly poignant use – the ‘/cut/’ of hair seems at once to reference the ‘cut’ of the title. Additionally, it breaks the flow of the reader. There appears to be no particular rhythm to the slashes or line breaks, simply a disruption. The disruption to the face by the cut, perhaps, or the disruption to the presumed reader represented by a non-binary figure.

Another strong use of the slash is the way it abstracts the body. Every part of the body, down to the clothes being worn, have their own line. Here the body is represented not as a whole, but as separate pieces. The reader is invited to consider the way we read these pieces as masculine or feminine within the context of the poem and its title. The limited pronoun use works in conjunction with this, separating the pieces not only from each other, but also from a singular ownership of this body. Once this space between body and self is established, ranapiri jams the masculine and feminine together, setting the reader off balance. Gender has remained ambiguous before this moment, and could be intentionally misread to provide a more cis-normative view. ranapiri quashes this in the seventh line, bringing that all important ‘her adam’s apple’ into play. Immediately the subject of the poem comes into view, shedding new light on to the readers experience, and preparing us for the final two lines.

What all of these techniques have in common are the spaces both literal and figurative in the story. ranapiri seems to be again referencing the final part of their work. What is missed out, what we are ‘late’ to, preoccupies this poem, haunting every line and every sparing word. ranapiri creates in this work a space where identity can be celebrated and mourned in the same breath, the past and present as well as hopes for the future tumbled up together.

Rachel Lockwood

Rachel Lockwood is Hawke’s Bay born and bred but now living in Wellington and studying a BA at VUW. She was a 2019 National Schools Poetry Award finalist, and has previously been published in Starling.

You can hear Rachel read her poem in Starling 10 here

essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa/Tainui/Ngāti Takatāpui/Clan Gunn/Highgate) is a person or some shit / or whatever / they wrote a book of poems called ransack / it’s still in th world / the only time they use they/them pronouns for themselves is in these bios / isn’t that funny / thx goes out to their ancestors / who are as big as everything / just wow / just everything / they will write until they’re dead

Monday Poem: You can read essa’s poem ‘when i was born i didn’t say anything’ here

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: essa may ranapiri’s ‘when i was born i didn’t say anything’

 

 

 

 

when i was born i didn’t say anything

for Ellen van Neerven

 

When it came to gender or being gendered.

I knew as much about it as my lungs knew how
to breathe.

Like two thumbs cut off and pushed inside a
plush toy.

Blackened by the world.

Already.

Marked down in a book.

I had nothing to write with.

 

 

essa may ranapiri

 

 

essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa/Tainui/Ngāti Takatāpui/Clan Gunn/Highgate) is a person or some shit / or whatever / they wrote a book of poems called ransack / it’s still in th world / the only time they use they/them pronouns for themselves is in these bios / isn’t that funny / thx goes out to their ancestors / who are as big as everything / just wow / just everything / they will write until they’re dead

Poetry Shelf Lounge: a Landfall 239 reading

 

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Landfall 239 edited by Emma Neale, Otago University Press, 2020

 

To celebrate the arrival of Landfall 239, edited by Emma Neale, I invited a few poets to read their poems from the issue.

The new issue is an excellent place for small reading retreats. You get fiction, non-fiction, poetry and reviews. It includes heavenly embroidered panels by artist Vita Cochran; they took me back to my primary school days when embroidery was a thing. Surely this will inspire a swag of us to pick up needle and thread, and get creative. I equally adored the paintings – oil on linen or canvas – by Star Gossage. These muted portraits, favouring  blue / green palettes, hum with mood and presence. Gosh I love them.

You also get the winning essays in the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition 2020.  And they cut through any stasis. Especially Grace Lee’s winning essay, ‘Body/Love’.

Small reading excursions are so very satisfying. And with me not going out for the forseeable future, I am very glad to settle back on the couch, and watch / listen to this Landfall reading. And then venture back into the book to read the fiction and reviews. Wonderful.

Thank you Landfall poets for contributing to a Poetry Shelf Lounge event.

 

 

 

 

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Lynley Edmeades reads ‘Notice’

 

 

 

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Leonard Lambert reads ‘Nights of Wonder, Days of Splendour’

 

 

 

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Emer Lyons reads ‘Nothing repaired, nothing gained’

 

 

 

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Talia Marshall reads ‘Being Active’

 

 

 

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Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall reads ‘Kēhua’

 

 

 

 

essa may ranapiri reads ‘echidna goes to see the drone perform in front of a live audience’

 

 

 

Jo-Ella Sarich reads ‘The Jasmine (We need to talk about suicide)’

 

 

 

Tim Saunders reads ‘Demilune’

 

 

 

Nicola Thorstensen reads ‘Legacy’

 

The Poets

 

Lynley Edmeades is the author of two books of poetry: As the Verb Tenses (2016) and Listening In (2019), both published with Otago University Press and both longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Best Book Award. Lynley is a lecturer at the University of Otago, and she is currently working on a book of essays.

Leonard Lambert is a long-established NZ poet with a publication history stretching from A Washday Romance (John McIndoe, 1980) to Somewhere in August: Selected Poems 1969-2016 (Steele Roberts, 2016). His most recent publication is a chapbook, Winter Waves, from Cold Hub Press. Between poems he paints and is a regular exhibitor around his home turf of Hawke’s Bay.

Emer Lyons is a lesbian writer from Cork, currently in the last months of a creative critical PhD at Otago.

Talia Marshall (Ngāti Kuia/Rangitāne ō Wairau/Ngāti Rārua/Ngāti Takihiku) is a poet and essayist with one son and one dog who has a poetry collection forthcoming from Kilmog Press titled Bad Apple. In 2020 she is writing about Ans Westra’s photographs of Māori as part of her Emerging Māori Writer’s Residency at Victoria University. Her essay titled ‘This Is the Way He Walked Into the Darkest, Pinkest Part of the Whale and Cried Don’t Tell the Others’ was quoted on the cover of POETRY magazine’s February 2018 Aotearoa issue.

Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall (Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangatahi, SȾÁ,UTW̱ First Nation) is a creative writing student at Te Pūtahi Tuhi Auaha o Te Ao (IIML). Her work has been published in Landfall, Turbine / Kapohau, Starling, Food Court, and Te Rito o Te Harakeke.

essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa/Tainui/Ngāti Takatāpui/Clan Gunn/Highgate) is a person or some shit / or whatever / they wrote a book of poems called ransack / it’s still in th world / the only time they use they/them pronouns for themselves is in these bios / isn’t that funny / thx goes out to their ancestors / who are as big as everything / just wow / just everything / they will write until they’re dead

Jo-Ella Sarich is a lawyer, writer, and mother to two young girls living in Te Awa Kairangi. Her poems have appeared in a number of print and online publications, including New Statesman, The Lake, Cleaver Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Quarterday Review, Shoreline of Infinity, takahē magazine, Shot Glass Journal, the New Zealand Poetry Society’s Anthology for 2017 and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.  Tumblr link, @jsarich_writer.

Tim Saunders farms sheep and beef near Palmerston North. He has had poetry and short stories published in Turbine|Kapohau, takahē, Landfall, Poetry NZ Yearbook and Flash Frontier. He won the 2018 Mindfood Magazine Short Story Competition, and placed third in the 2019 and 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Awards. His book, This Farming Life, was published by Allen & Unwin in August, 2020.

Nicola Thorstensen is a member of Dunedin’s Octagon Poetry Collective, which organises monthly poetry readings. Her work can be found in a number of New Zealand periodicals and journals, including Takahē, Poetry New Zealand and political anthology Manifesto Aotearoa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf connections: Ruby Solly premieres a video for her new album Pōneke and a wānanga with essa may ranapiri

 

Today we have a poetry and music video premier from Ruby Solly with film created by Sebastian Lowe and Viktor Baskin, as well as a wānanga around toi kupu, music, and writing into place between Ruby Solly and essa may ranapiri.

 

The video can be watched here:

 

 

 

Pōneke can be streamed and purchased here

 

essa may ranapiri Kia ora Ruby

I’ve been reading your poetry forever (since before I even knew you) and have been so privileged to hear you play and sing in public, and these songs on Pōneke are just giving me so much life recently! Just stilling those anxious jitters I’ve been struck with after the end of lockdown. It feels so of the outside as well. To me the songs create this river where you dip in and out of such a strength of emotion, I go from chilling and vibing to crying and humming along; face wet! It feels like something I’ve been needing for a long time. And there also poems that go with each one!

Before I ask you anything about the album could you talk a bit about how you got to where you are, your whakapapa and journey here to this time/place?

 

Ruby Solly Kia ora Essa!

Kā mihi nui for opening this wānanga space. I was a reader of yours before we met too! I love how we get to be woven together in this way, it’s very special to me. I really like the idea of these pieces forming a river as when I was recording them, I looked at a lot of old river routes from pre-colonial times. I like to think of the water under the concrete and how it can be heard in these pieces. After I finished the album I was actually gifted some of the original river stones from the Te Puni Stream which runs under my street, which joins up to the Waimapihi which features on the album. Was a perfect taonga to be given to mark being able to bring those songs and sounds out into the world again.

I whakapapa to Kai Tahu and Waitaha on my taha Māori, but I also have Jewish, Irish, Scottish and English whakapapa within me. I whakapapa back to Waihao as my tino marae in Te Wai Pounamu, from the Rōpa whānau. I was really lucky to grow up on the foot of Mount Ruapehu where I learnt koauau from my primary school teacher, Maria Kuppa, which was my first time meeting ngā taonga puoro. I started playing cello when I was about seven when we lived in Taupo, which also features on the album.  I started playing taonga puoro again at university under the korowai aroha of mentors such as Al Fraser, Ariana Tikao, and Rob Thorne. I’ve lived in Pōneke for seven years and over that time have been lucky to receive teachings on our whakapapa here from Kai Tahu kaumātua, as well as learn from locals and historical records about this place and how my histories are placed within it.

 

essa Sounds like the album is such a culmination of things for you, everything is of course, but it’s cool to pay attention to the whakapapa of our mahi so thank you for sharing that e hoa.

So the songs are lyricless but you wrote these little pieces of toikupu to go with the waiata (which i love!) it really gives context to the music but they work so well as pieces of music themselves. They are full of stories from around the region, what was something (or some things) you learnt that really stuck out to you and why?

 

Ruby Completely, I think with me when I get an idea it’s not necessarily a poetry idea or a music idea or an art idea; it’s just an idea in and of its self and I get to grow it into whatever direction I choose depending on how I treat it and feed it.

I did! It was hilarious because I wrote these very dry factual explanations of each track and then showed one of my cousins who pointed out how academic and dry they were. I’d just finished my masters so I was in this very academic Pākehā writing frame of mind and it reminded me to break out of that. I thought about how so much of our histories have been given to us and passed down through toikupu and song, and that maybe this work is adding to that tradition. I wrote all the poems in one big day during lockdown, but I had all the info in my head from the descriptions I’d written previously which took a lot longer. That’s often how I work as a writer anyway with a research and thinking phase taking up a lot of time and the actual writing just coming in at the end, I call it the internal blackboard a lot to explain it. The original descriptions can still be seen on the bandcamp page though in case that style suits people better.

I think the things that stuck with me the most were the places that I could whakapapa too, which says a lot about representation within arts and the importance of it. Pieces like the two Karaka poems / songs, and the ones with tohu from ōku mātua tūpuna like Koukou are so special to me. Something I love about taonga puoro is the presences that show up for you when you play, and learning to not only read those tohu but play with them.

I thought about you for this wānanga because one, I love your work, and two, because I’ve heard you read some hōhonu, beautiful pieces about place and your connection or disconnection with it. I love the way you unpack these things like taking things out of a messily packed suitcase, then show us everything inside then pack it neatly so we can see the whakapapa behind these feelings. It really inspires me as a writer and an artist. For you personally, how does writing about place affect you as a Māori writer?

 

essa I just want to speak to something you were saying at the top there before answering your question. It’s so true that the lines between forms are colonial constructions and it makes so much sense for me for this art to take on many forms, I often have paintings and poems and songs that speak to similar things like a little family work. I don’t know I just think that smooshing of form is really cool!

Writing about place is everything really, it hurts a lot, it challenges me, it makes me feel everything I lack, but also it’s everything we are and will be and have been. Because it’s all about place right? The whole state of things is due to where we are placed, where we are displaced. I wrote a poem about my marae, a place I have only passed on the highway or “visited” via the google maps and the work really does summon something, like just putting words into the world establishes some tenuous connection point. Like a little gift from my ancestors. But also I do worry I fetishize that disconnect sometimes, make my life about the things I don’t have rather the opportunities and connections that I can make. It’s also funny as well because growing up I feel like a lot of things teach you that place doesn’t matter like all the names of the streets are some dead colonizers from Britain and the shows on TV are American, none of us present on the box. It has really been a learning experience for me over the last ten or so years finding place or even coming to see it.

And that is another thing about Pōneke that I really love is how it seems to cuts through that noise – that hypermarketed, hyper commercialised, there is always an ad waiting noise, especially with the melodies that keep returning and returning (we see that spiral again) and the all that incidental sound of place itself. And also it’s so layered, taonga puoro, instruments, found sounds, voice, and bird’s song. Would you be able to talk a little bit about the recording process?

 

Ruby Yes! The idea of art, or just expression in general being placed into different categories is really colonial when you boil it down. Being able to communicate across mediums and languages is a strength we have inherited from our ancestors that we continue to build upon.

I feel that sense of being challenged. Place is so… present in te ao Māori, we’re asked where we’re from before we’re asked who we are which is both a beautiful thing, and a very complicated thing for those of us who have not been privileged to have that relationship with turangawaewae cultivated in the physical sense. Writing into a place is a very Māori way of creating I think, and yes, it hurts to do it and to move through it. But it definitely gave me a deeper sense of understanding and helped me work through the kind of fetishizing that can happen with any diaspora. I’ve heard it referred to as “competitive pain” within our Jewish diaspora, and I really wanted to be able to choose how I presented that pain and how I wove it with all the other emotions that come with it, the full spectrum of it.

Thank you! When I create complete works like a book, or album, or a large piece without a major prompt I like to try and have it so even if no one was ever to see it but me (and my descendants possibly); we would still grow and learn from it. Then I decide whether I want that to be shared wider. I think in many ways that can cut out the subconscious desire to make something to fit the norm or to serve others, which in many ways serves people who don’t always have their needs met in media usually.

For the recording process I recorded taonga puoro within the different environments, responding to them in real time. Then I layered up cello at home afterwards to support the taonga puoro. Some tracks have some extra layers of sounds from the places when I wanted to really tune in to particular sounds like the gulls on Matiu-Somes island for example (they were also dive bombing me so I had to have a few goes). The whole thing was actually recorded on an iPhone four which I haven’t told anyone until now because I was super whakamā about it! But I learnt a lot about recording and took principles from how jazz bands recorded around one singular microphone in the 1920s with things being placed different distances from the mic. The mixing really added to the sound too which was done by Al Fraser.

 

essa I have listened to a lot of pro stuff recorded on phones there is a lot of life in those kinds of set ups I think! There is even a strange ideology I think behind those pristine soundproofed spaces set aside for recording, it benefits the subject matter so much for the recordings to done in the spaces they’re responding to!  The mix is awesome, brings it all together so well, Al did a great job!

Some final questions, what would you want people to take from this record if just one thing?

Also you have a book of poetry coming out next year do you feel there is an overlap between that work and this?

 

Ruby Completely! It’s given so many people so many more options! I think as well it can be used as a tool to remove the ’sacred room’ element of recording where we try to eliminate all noise in a studio, and through that it can bring the environment back into the music as a contributor. I think acknowledging the space you’re in and all that brings is a big part of te ao Māori and it feels really good to be able to look at recording in that way as a method of decolonizing the recording process. Al is awesome! We both had finishing off the album and all its components as a sort of lockdown project, and it was so good to have someone who really understood the work and how I’ve developed as a player and a person through it.

I think if I could pick one thing for people to take away… it would be an increased ability to listen to and feel histories in places, with more of a sense of presence. To show people that idea that the repercussions of the past are still here, and we kind of get to look back at them in a way where we see the good and the bad all mixing together, and we get to decide where we go with that information. I’ve had lots of conversations with friends and whānau recently about matakite and te ao wairua, and I think my path into that world is being able to hear places and their histories. It’s deep work to be able to share that and I feel grateful to be walking on that path.

I do! I think for me there again is that creative process where there is a seed of an idea or an experience, and I get to choose what I feed it with and how I grow it. With the book, I started writing it long before I realised. So many of my pieces were about growing up on mount Ruapehu and Turangi, or my family histories and relationships, and then I just saw this thread with my connections to Kai Tahu and all these other people and places through my Dad and that was what was growing as the book. I’m excited for people to read the book because it does that same thing I think, it acknowledges that there is the good and the bad and all of it is our history and has lead to us. There’s a real narrative of me starting to see and hear that through my childhood and figuring out how I choose to live with it. I’m super fascinated too with the parts of our culture we don’t always acknowledge. Things like how we raise children, or the things we value, or the way we structure our speech. I think those things are often the parts that colonisation struggled to remove, and through them that’s often how we find and reclaim our ways of being and so much of our matauranga. Dad used to get me to swim down this river every summer, while everyone else had boats and life jackets, because he wanted me to be a strong swimmer because it was a survival skill for us and our environment. Little pieces like that are often misunderstood, but can be great gifts. I’ve saved myself from drowning many times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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