Rosanna Raymond was born in Auckland New Zealand of Samoan decent and currently lives and works in London with her family. A ‘Tusitala’ (a teller of tales) at heart her art practice takes a variety of forms ranging from installation works, spoken words and body adornment, fusing traditional pacific practises with modern innovations and techniques. Raymond is a member of the Malika’s Kitchen Poetry collective in London and a mentor for the Printable Reality-Page2Stage Artistic development programme in NZ, with performances and new works scheduled for the coming year in the UK, Nederlands, Germany and Canada.
A published poet and writer, with art works held in museum and private collections around the world, Raymond has forged a role for herself over the past 15 years as a producer and commentator on contemporary PI culture in Aotearoa NZ, the UK and the USA specializing with working within museums and higher education institutions as an artist, performer, curator, guest speaker, poet and workshop leader.
Lights off and…just hit downtown Lalolagi…life under the clouds
On my way to Pulotu to catch up with the tipuna, some old friends and the gods.
Took me a while, the entrance is blocked with a global gathering of corporate sponsored rubbish, it’s mainly plastic and ocean going.
The sound of money markets merges with the smell of fried chicken drowning out the tangi of the Blood Clot, sitting patiently at the doorway, with her legs crossed and a club in both hands, chewing kava ….her Malu clinging to the posts of the house.
There’s a flying fox nailed onto a stick…Jesus styles…or is that spread eagle, can’t make up my mind…anyways…ever get the feeling you’ve been shafted
Desecration, Testament, Treatment, Excreta
No wonder the rocks and earth were weeping…or maybe they just been laughing to much
I had to go the back way through Hawaiiki
Hawaiiki Nui, Hawaiiki Roa, Hawaiiki Paomaomao
The Long White Cloud led the way…..
Haere atu ra koutou kua wheturangitia hoki atu ki a Hinenui te po e,
Haere atu ra, haere atu ra, haere atu ra….
I follow the cry for the dead
The Malofie were there waiting to check me in…my passport to Pulotu etched on my legs
I stop and talk with some old souls, they see I am a little anxious
They tell me “don’t worry babe, Hinenui Te Po has told all the necessary bodies, the salt water whanau are coming from the all over the moana, they are weaving fine white mats and binding bundles of fuzzy limed hair.”
Blood Clot’s Malu spies me and comes to speak to me.
I do as I am told, put my hands in the air, and drop my skin in one of the puddles
The tatatau didn’t go, it’s deeply scored in my flesh, highlighting all the spaces in between.
I gift her a bunch of red feathers, some necklaces I made for dancing and praying and a couple of London based taniwha, one is half lion half serpentine, the other a shapeshfiter, she is used to the muck and mirth of mankind, she even copulates with them
They have brought a bottle of single malt scotch, some old magic charms made out of red coral and acorns
All good ingredients for a soul shake down party, everybody turns inside out, dancing and praying, all at the same time…
Out come the guitars and the wood drums…gonna be one of those sing song…long nights…no room for wall flowers here…all the bodies get their tattooed arses on the dance floor
We sing songs of redemption and reciprocality
In comes the light, it shines so bright you can see into the corners of everybody’s heart.
No secrets, no lies, the shadows take flight…
This is paradise baby, no heaven, no hell…I feel quite shiny...all warm and fuzzy and covered in the dust and the detritus of eons of past lives.
It’s like a stain that never quite goes away
Well as you can imagine…I’ve lost all sense of time and space…and when I finally get back to Lalolagi, it’s still dark… looks like I’m the last one back, so better go turn on the light.
Talk about the need to be switched on
Part 2: sOme oLd flOw
Grey day, wind is heavy, filled with the dead and the very much alive,
makes for noisy days out… no wonder nobody will look you in the eyes
London, Intentions, Tensions, Attentions
Everybody uploading tones of Babel
Chitter, chatter…Burble, babble, it all scrambles. Looks like the matrix…pure maths, shame I am not good at numbers… but sure can recognise a nuanced time inter-lapse pretext when I see one.
Personally I prefer somewhere quiet……………like the inside of a stone, the sort that warm up when you hold them or put them in your pockets.
The old man Thames, got an old flow...somewhat aggro… he will take lives if you let him, he’s riddled with taniwha, I see them all the time, heard they hitched a ride with the Dolphin…came in on a high tide.
“Who’s that trip tropping over my bridge,” said the Taniwha, “I’m going to eat you up,” they laugh, it comes straight from the belly…so loud, someone always calls noise control
Just go look under the bridges, they have even managed to chase the odd troll away…making it a little harder to know who to pay and what your paying for
The shore is scattered with bones, I use them to make music so shrill, they shake the gods from the trees…doesn’t matter where they are from…they come to hear that music, it has a familiar melody…they sing along
In themselves, on the streets of London town
We walk side by side…hanging in the heavens with the lights on
Lessons for dancing with bent knees
Lava stream dreams
Purerehua in my eyes
Raukatauri on my mind
It’s all getting a bit hazy
A slo mo
A dis…communication, tribulation
I end up barking like a dog
Looks like it is time to call in the wairua protection squad
The air goes still and heavy
Its about to drop
and bring the heavens with it
Cascading all around me,
I breathe it all in
my blood and earth are one
they have mingled with the gods
and reveal themselves on my skin
so I feed them
And we sing
Voices aiming for the heavens
forcing the gods to relent
they dance to the high tones
and reply with our blood in their eyes
And we sing
The whites of my eyes are revealed
my mouth contorts and I see the truth
visions of emancipation, songs of redemption
and they scatter with the wind
And we sing
My heart turns into a sharkskin drum
It sounds like a machine gun
So I breathe
Brain does a double bounce
double click quick trick
So I breathe
I am walking with the stars
Heavenly bodies stuck to my feet
We are one… They sway to the rhythm
Of the shark skin drum
So I breathe
It sounds like a machine gun
it’s the same as that sharkskin drum rhythm
I leave my mouth open, inviting the gods
But you can still feed me
Fill me up, they are not jealous gods
There is room for you….. but only when the gods are resting
We won’t disturb them
They have gone off to sleep with the stars
Leaving us to feast in the night
A new rhythm for my sharkskin drum
A Poutokomanawa Bypass
A heart attack, discovery, recovery.
Pulse somewhat faint, but has a beat.
Been out of circulation for a while.
Hoarded, now in storage for referential data from a past mankind.
Somewhere is a house with no ancestral support
just a lonely heart.
No arms and legs, no eyes, no head
No threshold to enter…
No stomach, no ribs, no backbone
No steps to heaven or albatross tears
No birds of a feather to flock together
What is left, is
A wooden heart,
pumping parched blood
straight out onto the floor
All soaked up with acid free tissue
some curatorial discourse
the intangible chattels left to the side
We are face to face
my nose pressed against yours
Hongi mai…we breathe in the ages
I smell violence
I smell decimation
What was your name……. your tribal affiliations?
Who was the man that carved you?
Where is your top knot?
Did they leave it behind along with
your adornments or did they get lost along the way
and, in whose gods’ name…. took your penis
I smell animation
You still have your deep grooves
A face etched with the land
Three pronged grasp
I bring you gifts of
Aute…white will attract the gods
Raukura…treasured by the chiefs
Paua… so you can hide in the sea
Mako… valuable trade item for the other side
Your beat goes on …
Listen, we sing to you, we call to you
our hearts beat with you
on behalf of you
Moe moe aa, rangatira ma
Haere raa, ka hoki mai ano
Rest well ..We will be there to greet you again……. keep that blood pumping .