Sunday, 2 September 2018

{Reviews by STELLA}
Poetry comes in a myriad of forms and each appeals (or not) in its own way. It is sometimes difficult to say why you like a poem - why it appeals or resonates. It's more than the rhythm of the language on the page: sometimes it is the visual appeal of the words or phrases sparsely arranged on a page making talking or thinking space; sometimes it's a turn of phrase which you read aloud just to hear the audacity of the text - of the poet’s thoughts; sometimes it is the quietness of the language that picks at you until it leaves a satisfying scab. Or, in the case of Tayi Tibble’s first collection, a fierce and evocative scar. From the moment I openedPoūkahangatus, on a random page, and started reading the poem 'Shame', I knew this collection of poems would be coming home with me.

the winz lady who smiles
has a sign in her office that says

he aha te mea nui o te ao
he tangata, he tangata, he tangata

but she says the most important thing
in the world
Is getting back into the workforce

Tayi Tibble writes about being young, about being Maori, about being beautiful and conversely about ‘ugliness’ and difference. She delves deep into our colonial culture and pushes against the edges of our comfort on race and gender without blinking. Her poems are sharp, ironic and tragic, and you will want to keep returning to them to examine your own responses to these concepts as well as to hear her honest and striking voice. To understand, to accept and to hear a voice, a viewpoint that may not be your own cultural experience yet resonates as it is part of the experience of living in a country, in a world, that has a colonial history - a history which impacts the present and needs new voices to ignite us. This is also a collection of poems that explores gender and difference - about what frames our identity and about exploding those concepts of identity into a whirlwind of a storm. It delves back into time: into school days, meeting the mean aunty, about nanny who isn’t a ‘blood relative’, about funerals and births, and the lines that anchor us to our past as well as the things that release us. With a title that is a play on the word Pocahontas and a cover illustration showing a glamorous Tayi in the bath with snakes and vodka, the reader is pitched straight into the audacity of Tibble and the obvious glee that runs parallel to the deeper, more serious, concerns of this collection of poems.



For a complete contrast, Badly Wolf, A furry tale is a parody nursery rhyme for adults. Cleverly written by local poet Lindsay Pope and lovingly illustrated by Johanna Tyson, this is a delightful small book, perfect for reading aloud or chuckling away with to yourself. Our central character is indeed the Wolf - the fiend of fairy tales and dark stories. Described variously as toothless, howling, winsome, cross-dressed, charming, hungry and prowling, the old wolf is both friend and foe - sometimes lacking yet often sly, but not always what you would expect. The action mostly takes place in badly wolf’s lair, and a multitude of familiar people visit, beginning with the lovely Little Red Riding Hood, complete with a soft red beret, and followed by her father, not so friendly, armed with an axe. While Wolf has a lie-down to recover, others come a-knocking: Goldilocks with her three bears, Cinderella, and even one of the three little pigs enter stage left in an unexpected manner. Expect the unexpected and, in the words of the poet: Beware!

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