This is a collection of writing that posits the very real paradox of the precarious and staunch (female) body as lived and encountered within society, front and centre. It looks at the ways in which certain life structures draw out or exaggerate the relationship between these forces—the weak, the strong. The collection explicitly folds out from a selection of poems by J. C. Sturm, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant Māori women writers of the twentieth century. Sturm’s poetry is placed in relation to new writing by five women working today: Ruth Buchanan, Anna Gritz, Sarah Hopkinson, Hanahiva Rose, and Sriwhana Spong.

Let go, unlearn, give back

Let go, relinquish
Charms, talismans, taonga.
Return them, in the turning time
To their source.

Unlearn, put aside
Chants, prayers, incantations.
Exchange them, in the changing time
For silence.

Give back, but gently
Loving and being loved.
Then leave them, in the leaving time
And go alone.