Even Tayi Tibble Is Insecure About Her Instagram Captions

Tayi Tibble

When Tayi Tibble was eight, she decided she’d be a writer. But in middle school, after a love poem assignment, she resolved to be a poet. As a Māori woman—an indigenous Polynesian, living in New Zealand—she began posting her writing on Wattled, Tumblr and Instagram, gaining a large following for her elegies on ancestral trauma and girlhood sprinkled with references to cultural ephemera like Twilight. In 2018, her first poetry collection, Poūkahangatus, was published with Knopf and received the Jessie Mackay Best First Book of Poetry Award. Despite a slew of accomplishment at just 28—including, but not limited to, being the first Māori writer published in The New Yorker and an appearance in in Lorde’s Solar Power music video—she remains miraculously humble. “Everything for the kaupapa always (the cause),” she says. Now, following its release in New Zealand in 2021, Rangikura, her incendiary second collection, hits bookshelves this week in the States. While her work is heavy, Tibble nimbly zig zags from comedic lines about the Kardashians to reflections on ancestral trauma, colonization and love affairs. Given that the poet used Instagram to get her start, it’s only fitting we tapped her as our subject for this week’s edition of Search History. So we slid into Tayi’s DMs to talk writing love poems, meeting Lorde, and stressing over Instagram captions.


ELOISE KING-CLEMENTS: Hi Tayi! This is Eloise with Interview.

TAYI TIBBLE: Oh heeeey Eloise! How are you? 

KING-CLEMENTS: I’m great! To begin, A/S/L?

TIBBLE: 28/Female/Aotearoa.

KING-CLEMENTS: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? 

TIBBLE: I go back sleep. I have to hit snooze like six times. Every morning is like being reborn to me. It’s upsetting. But then I’ll put music on the speakers and check my apps.

KING-CLEMENTS: Which app do you spend the most time on?

TIBBLE: I think Spotify, but my screen time differs and reckon its Instagram.

KING-CLEMENTS: Where do you go online for writing inspo? 

TIBBLE: Maybe Instagram. I follow a lot of indigenous artists and so I get inspired seeing their mahi on my feed. I think I’m inspired by my friends who work in a different medium like visual arts or film. Or Te Ara, which is NZ history website haha.

KING-CLEMENTS: What have you learned anything about NZ recently? 

TIBBLE: Oh my gosh, yes. My current obsession is this place in my tribal lands called Waipiro Bay on the east coast. I think the population now is like, 100 people, but it used to be a massive trading town with like three hotels and a cinema in the 1920s. The biggest town on the coast. I’d love to write something set there.

KING-CLEMENTS: Have you ever given someone a love poem?

TIBBLE: I have a few times, yeah! A lot of the lovers I’ve had I’ve met through literary events so they’re open to it even though it’s like soo dramatic. I once sent one to a man and his effing wife emailed it back to me with the subject line, “wtf is this?” I was shocked. 

KING-CLEMENTS: Omgggg that is shocking.

TIBBLE: Yeah it was not slay and I feel terrible to this day. I can’t remember what I wrote, but I remember what my crushes wrote. One of them wrote this poem that was like… I will take a staircase to your heart just to hear it beat ❤️‍🔥

KING-CLEMENTS: What were your last three Google searches? 

TIBBLE: Lol you can see the moment when I realized Sandy Liang shoes are expensive.

Tayi Tibble

KING-CLEMENTS: What’s the strangest DM you’ve received? 

TIBBLE: I once got a DM from this bro who was telling me that he and his girlfriend make love to my poetry. Like, they read it in between the sheets. I found this to be weird, as most of my poems are about colonization imo. They were white hippie types and then they tried to proposition me.

KING-CLEMENTS: I’m speechless. Anyhow, how do you master the perfect Instagram caption? 

TIBBLE: I’m honestly insecure about my Instagram captions! I feel like they’re mid a lot and this doesn’t fit my self image as a writer. Because I’m in an era of over-sharing on the internet again, I’ve just been listing what I’ve been up to ✨poetically✨ & cute & creative emoji are a must. I keep a notes app of potential captions tho.

KING-CLEMENTS: What celebrity do you think should be a poet? 

TIBBLE: North West.

KING-CLEMENTS: Can you send your favorite meme? 

TIBBLE: I saved this one recently but it’s only funny in māori.

Tayi Tibble

TIBBLE: Or, someone sent me this one recently and my jaw was on the floor

KING-CLEMENTS: Describe your private browsing persona in 3 words.

TIBBLE: Definition of words. I don’t want Google to know I’m dumb.

KING-CLEMENTS: Describe filming Lorde’s “Solar Power” video. 

TIBBLE: Hahaha honestly it was supposed to be like, top-secret, no-leak stuff and I didn’t know how seriously to take it so I literally didn’t ask for any details and had no idea what was going on or what I was supposed to be doing until I was on an island in a car and some producer gave me the vibe. I was so confused but just rolling with it. I hadn’t met Ella in person by that stage yet and I remember being like, woah she’s extra beautiful in real life like a pop star.

KING-CLEMENTS: That’s wild. 

TIBBLE: I like my scene in the flowers tho, they kept calling it Tayi’s garden. I liked that.

KING-CLEMENTS: Can you send a fit pic? 

TIBBLE: I’m humiliated by my phone case. 

KING-CLEMENTS: Any advice on performing poetry? 

TIBBLE: I remember an elder māori poet told me (because I was rushing) that when we read our poems we should read them with the mana they deserve. That way you honor your poem, you honor the audience and you honor yourself. Mana is sort of like our concept of true integrity. That, and wear something nice to look at.

KING-CLEMENTS: What’re the elements of a perfect book launch party? 

TIBBLE: I think for the perfect book launch the author needs to get emotional and cry, the publicist needs to be thanked, attendees should bring flowers and small gifts, a nice, free, flow of NZ wines, afters in a sexy bar, and usually here in NZ we end up at karaoke. I like a multi city launch too 🤣

KING-CLEMENTS: Print or digital? 

TIBBLE: Print.

KING-CLEMENTS: Money or clout? 

TIBBLE: Neither. Everything for the kaupapa always (the cause).