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Poukahangatus

Poems

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The American debut of an acclaimed young poet as she explores her identity as a twenty-first-century Indigenous woman. Poem by poem, Tibble carves out a bold new way of engaging history, of straddling modernity and ancestry, desire and exploitation.

Intimate, moving, virtuosic, and hilarious, Tayi Tibble is one of the most exciting new voices in poetry today. In Poūkahangatus (pronounced “Pocahontas”), her debut volume, Tibble challenges a dazzling array of mythologies—Greek, Māori, feminist, kiwi—peeling them apart, respinning them in modern terms. Her poems move from rhythmic discussions of the Kardashians, sugar daddies, and Twilight to exquisite renderings of the natural world and precise emotions (“The lump in her throat swelled like a sea that threatened to take him from her, and she had to swallow hard”). Tibble is also a master narrator of teenage womanhood, its exhilarating highs and devastating lows; her high-camp aesthetics correlate to the overflowing beauty, irony, and ruination of her surroundings. 

These are warm, provocative, and profoundly original poems, written by a woman for whom diving into the wreck means taking on new assumptions—namely, that it is not radical to write from a world in which the effects of colonization, land, work, and gender are obviously connected. Along the way, Tibble scrutinizes perception and how she as a Māori woman fits into trends, stereotypes, and popular culture. With language that is at once colorful, passionate, and laugh-out-loud funny, Poūkahangatus is the work of one of our most daring new poets.
Identity Politics

I buy a Mana Party T-shirt from AliExpress.
$9.99 free shipping via standard post.
Estimated arrival 14–31 working days.
Tracking unavailable via DHL. Asian size XXL.
I wear it as a dress with thigh-high vinyl boots
and fishnets. I post a picture to Instagram.
Am I navigating correctly? Tell me,
which stars were my ancestors looking at?
And which ones burnt the black of searching irises
and reflected something genuine back? I look to
Rihanna and Kim Kardashian shimmering in
Swarovski crystals. Make my eyes glow with seeing.
I am inhaling long white clouds and I see
rivers of milk running towards orange oceans of
sunlit honey. Tell me, am I navigating correctly?
I want to spend my money on something bougie,
like custom-made pounamu hoop earrings. I want to
make them myself but my line doesn’t trace back
to the beauties in the south making amulets
with elegant fingers. I go back into blackness,
I go back and fill in the gaps, searching through archives
of advertisements: Welcome to the Wonderland
of the South Pacific. Tiki bars, traffic-light cocktails &
paper umbrellas. Tell me, am I navigating correctly?
Steering through the storm drunk & wet-faced
waking up to the taste of hangover, a dry mouth, a strange bed,
shirt above my head is the flag fluttering over everything.
What were we celebrating? The 6th of February is the anniversary
of the greatest failed marriage this nation has ever seen.
In America, couples have divorce parties. We always arrive
fashionably late. Tell me, am I navigating correctly? The sea
our ancestors traversed stretches out farther than the stars.
© Pelham Dacombe Bird
TAYI TIBBLE (Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou) was born in 1995 and lives in Te Whanganui a Tara, Aotearoa. In 2017, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, where she was the recipient of the Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing. She is the author of Poūkahangatus. View titles by Tayi Tibble

Tayi Tibble, author of Poukahangatus, with John Freeman, Executive Editor at Alfred A. Knopf

About

The American debut of an acclaimed young poet as she explores her identity as a twenty-first-century Indigenous woman. Poem by poem, Tibble carves out a bold new way of engaging history, of straddling modernity and ancestry, desire and exploitation.

Intimate, moving, virtuosic, and hilarious, Tayi Tibble is one of the most exciting new voices in poetry today. In Poūkahangatus (pronounced “Pocahontas”), her debut volume, Tibble challenges a dazzling array of mythologies—Greek, Māori, feminist, kiwi—peeling them apart, respinning them in modern terms. Her poems move from rhythmic discussions of the Kardashians, sugar daddies, and Twilight to exquisite renderings of the natural world and precise emotions (“The lump in her throat swelled like a sea that threatened to take him from her, and she had to swallow hard”). Tibble is also a master narrator of teenage womanhood, its exhilarating highs and devastating lows; her high-camp aesthetics correlate to the overflowing beauty, irony, and ruination of her surroundings. 

These are warm, provocative, and profoundly original poems, written by a woman for whom diving into the wreck means taking on new assumptions—namely, that it is not radical to write from a world in which the effects of colonization, land, work, and gender are obviously connected. Along the way, Tibble scrutinizes perception and how she as a Māori woman fits into trends, stereotypes, and popular culture. With language that is at once colorful, passionate, and laugh-out-loud funny, Poūkahangatus is the work of one of our most daring new poets.

Excerpt

Identity Politics

I buy a Mana Party T-shirt from AliExpress.
$9.99 free shipping via standard post.
Estimated arrival 14–31 working days.
Tracking unavailable via DHL. Asian size XXL.
I wear it as a dress with thigh-high vinyl boots
and fishnets. I post a picture to Instagram.
Am I navigating correctly? Tell me,
which stars were my ancestors looking at?
And which ones burnt the black of searching irises
and reflected something genuine back? I look to
Rihanna and Kim Kardashian shimmering in
Swarovski crystals. Make my eyes glow with seeing.
I am inhaling long white clouds and I see
rivers of milk running towards orange oceans of
sunlit honey. Tell me, am I navigating correctly?
I want to spend my money on something bougie,
like custom-made pounamu hoop earrings. I want to
make them myself but my line doesn’t trace back
to the beauties in the south making amulets
with elegant fingers. I go back into blackness,
I go back and fill in the gaps, searching through archives
of advertisements: Welcome to the Wonderland
of the South Pacific. Tiki bars, traffic-light cocktails &
paper umbrellas. Tell me, am I navigating correctly?
Steering through the storm drunk & wet-faced
waking up to the taste of hangover, a dry mouth, a strange bed,
shirt above my head is the flag fluttering over everything.
What were we celebrating? The 6th of February is the anniversary
of the greatest failed marriage this nation has ever seen.
In America, couples have divorce parties. We always arrive
fashionably late. Tell me, am I navigating correctly? The sea
our ancestors traversed stretches out farther than the stars.

Author

© Pelham Dacombe Bird
TAYI TIBBLE (Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou) was born in 1995 and lives in Te Whanganui a Tara, Aotearoa. In 2017, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, where she was the recipient of the Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing. She is the author of Poūkahangatus. View titles by Tayi Tibble

Media

Tayi Tibble, author of Poukahangatus, with John Freeman, Executive Editor at Alfred A. Knopf