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Montana Poetry Day - Friday 12 July 2002

from Waiata to Haiku - poetry's popularity is growing fast . . . New Zealand's national day of poetry Montana Poetry Day, is a celebration of this country's unique and vibrant poetic voice - whether it is odes to myths and legends, serious social commentary or just plain good fun. Each year on Montana Poetry Day thousands of people gather throughout the country to listen, recite, read and participate in poetry related events and activities. This year Montana Poetry Day will be held on Friday 12 July. "Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge" - Wordsworth

There's no doubt that poetry is popular. Findings from Creative New Zealand's survey on arts participation show that over one month, 205,000 New Zealand adults read poetry - an activity ranked 10th out of 35 arts activities. Over a year, reading poetry is among women's top 10 arts activities; it's in the top 10 for the 18 to 24 years group and for 60+ years; and in the top 10 for New Zealand's Pacific Islands people.

The publishing of poetry is also on the rise. Submissions in the poetry category for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2002 have increased three-fold since 1997. "Poetry is the universal art"- Hegel

So what do those burgeoning mobs of poetry fans have to look forward to on Montana Poetry Day 2002? Anything and everything, ranging from 'start the day with a poem' for young people in Lower Hutt to a 'poetry slam' until midnight in Auckland. Highlights include poetry handouts (pamphlets with poetry written by local poets) on the streets of Palmerston North; outdoor Haiku installations on the Hutt Hills near Wellington; travellers on the Inter-Island ferries will be greeted at the Picton Ferry Terminal by local poets reading their work; recently published Sonja Yelich with fellow 'new poet' Stu Bagby reading at the Takapuna Library in Auckland; Dunedin celebrates its poetic heritage with actors reading from the works of past Otago poets; Montana New Zealand Book Awards finalist Anna Jackson reading from her latest book The Pastoral Kitchen at the Women's Bookshop in Ponsonby and to end the day a gala event featuring rocker Graham Brazier.

These poetry events are just a small flavour of how New Zealanders will be celebrating one of their favourite art forms on Montana Poetry Day. There is more to come. People seeking information on Montana Poetry Day events should keep checking "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" - Wordsworth

THE MONTANA NEW ZEALAND BOOK AWARDS 2002: Poetry celebrations are part of the run to Awards night for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2002. The winner of the poetry category will be announced on 28 June. The three finalists for this are The Pastoral Kitchen (Auckland University Press), Anna Jackson's second collection of poetry, Brian Turner's first collection in 10 years, Taking Off (Victoria University Press) and Piggy-back Moon (Godwit), Hone Tuwhare's collection written during his tenure as Te Mata Poet Laureate. All three poets are available for interview.

The poetry category winner will be one of the books included on the shortlist for the Montana Medal. The winner of the Montana Medal will be announced on Saturday 20 July. The Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry will also be announced on on 20 July.

SPONSORS: Montana Poetry Day was established in 1998 by Booksellers New Zealand. Supported by Montana Wines and Creative New Zealand, Montana Poetry Day is designed to broaden the profile, popularise the image and strengthen the appeal of poetry by demonstrating that poetry is accessible to everyone. "Wine is bottled poetry" - Robert Louis Stevenson

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