As told to Tyson Beckett.
"When I was younger I was quite invisible or I blended in, because people don't see brown bodies. I would have conversations where people would openly ask me: “oh, wow, you're actually going to finish high school? That's great!”
I think they were constantly seeing my body not as my individual body but as a narrative they believed, and had heard snaps of.
I have worked very hard in my writing, and in my performance, to put forward this whole new analysis of what a woman of colour can be. Yes, she's privileged, yes, she's furious, but she is also very sexy. That wasn't out there.
Standing in front of high school students who are brown, and performing poetry that is very sexual, and very empowered, and very strong, I am having a connection with those people. And those young people are looking at me and seeing my body as the body that they will become, or a body that they have seen in their own families, and they are seeing that it is a body that can be more than one thing.
I think being queer as well, on top of all that, and being in love with this amazing beautiful brown woman, I am very aware all the time that we are trying very best to embody within our actual bodies the narrative that visual artist Janet Lilo and I have been pumping out into the world for a long time.
Her work is super playful, and super serious, and we have both worked a lot overseas, and so much of what we have done is almost like trying to create these constellations out in the world, and trying to bring it back for young Māori and Pacific women who need to see bodies like ours moving through space and doing interesting things.
We have three sons. In a way I think my body is beautiful now because it's not just my body any more. When I take myself into public spaces, and I make myself very vulnerable, I am also trying to demonstrate these things can be done, these things are happening.
Power can be held within bodies like mine, and power can be shared."
Author, poet, playwright, and musician, Courtney Sina Meredith is director of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust. Her latest poetry collection, Burst Kisses on the Actual Wind (2021), and she is the honoured writer at this year’s Samesame but Different literary festival. Register to watch Courtney’s online talk on February 19 with Jeremy Hansen here