‘Hunger made me’, reveals one speaker in Ripe, and the desire to be satiated fills these poems. Desperate women hide grains of rice in their hair, baked beans evoke a strained father-daughter relationship, plantains endure the fire. Yet hunger takes many forms, as the risks and rewards of its satisfaction are weighed, and cravings for intimacy are charged with danger. ‘When we’re born, we’re someone else’s’, but in this daring exploration of identity and survival, we hear a thrilling new voice come into its own.
Baafi’s poems read as daring and inventive signifiers, interrogating a myriad of complex subjects, and immersing readers in a world fortified with wit, curiosity, and unapologetic beauty. Throughout the pamphlet, her poetry tussles with the paradoxes, uncertainties, and anxieties of our current social climate; employing new and arresting forms, and infusing originality into her lines. Her writing invokes a sharp hybrid register, working to ensure an impressive display of ideas at both the word and sentence level.
Praise for Ripe
“Isabelle Baafi has a command of considerable linguistic athleticism, both in of her choice of themes and in her willingness to embrace an ambitious variety of forms in this, her first pamphlet. […] These are poems that are witty, unafraid and hungry for intimacy.”
—Vanessa Lampert, The Alchemy Spoon
“Ripe is a pamphlet which draws on the mundane to forge beauty, using sensual tones to deal with and address harsh subject matter. Baafi’s poems are great inventions in terms of their use of form. Throughout this book, her use of language is never laboured in its endeavour to draw the reader’s attention. […] Overall, Baafi’s poems often step outside the rational and waking consciousness in order to investigate other realms, be that paranoia, dream states etc. […] Through her lyric poems, prose poetry, erasures and much besides, Baafi offers us a complex world worth savouring, as she revels in language both sacred and profane. This is a pamphlet to enjoy and a poet to watch.”
— Nick Makoha and Mary Jean Chan, PBS Pamphlet Selectors