Author: Tayi Tibble on Poūkahangatus & decolonising the mind

22-year-old Tayi Tibble has recently graduated her masters and published her first poetry book titled Poūkahangatus. It featured at number one twice on the Unity Books bestselling list and was the first book of poetry to claim the number-one spot since Hera Lindsay Bird in 2016. It was reviewed by Jenna Todd for the Spinoff Papercuts Podcast: as havinga freshness, a naughtiness, and an incredible cover”.

Fresh and naughty with incredible ‘covers’ are themes brown girls are universally loved and recognised for. Being a scholar and unapologetic poet published straight out of uni sets this brown girl apart. I knew Tibble and I would get on because she goes by ‘Paniaofthekeef’ on Instagram. I knew because she went to Aotea College near where I grew up in Wellington and because she came to our interview in brand new Fila sneakers with a platform that made her outfit just drip [LIKE].
“I’m like a gangsta bitch but I remember being a teenager and being real shame about that like dressing real twee,” she says. We talk about being unapologetically who you are in 2018 and what decolonising the mind means to her as well as what being an urban Māori means today. We talk about how much harder women of colour have worked to get into positions of significant power and how important it is to keep pushing that kaupapa so our daughters and sons can dream a bit bigger, aim a bit higher and feel a sense that achieving those dreams are possible for them too.
For Tibble leading by such a high example is a pressure and a privilege – and a platform she’s intent on growing. “People will often ask me ‘Oh how do you feel about being a Māori writer?’ in reference to the fact that Pākehā people don’t get called ‘Pākehā writers.’ I’ve also encountered other Māori writers rejecting that label, saying that they aren’t or can’t be ‘a Māori writer.’ They’re just a writer like everyone else and I get that but…. I don’t really fuck with that. I’m a Māori writer. In my mind that’s undeniable and inescapable, and it’s important that I embrace that.

SERUM: So you embrace the responsibility?
TAYI: I have to..Cause I can see the detriments of not doing it.

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