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NZ celebrates poetry with National Poetry Day on 22 August



Poetry lovers are spoiled for choice with more than 60 events being held all around the country to celebrate National Poetry Day on Friday, 22 August. National Poetry Day is held in association with the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Now in its 17th year, National Poetry Day events include Poems for Pikelets in Nelson, a poetry serenade phone line, a Whistle Stop poetry tour of Otago and Southland, Operation Funny Bone – a celebration of amusing poetry in the Coromandel, poems on walls in the Wairarapa, poets on buses in Auckland and Wellington, and a day-long festival of poetry at Ashburton College.

National Poetry Day’s national coordinator, Miriam Barr, says the variety of this year’s events will appeal to aspiring poetry writers, established poets, those who simply enjoy listening to poetry and those who think poetry isn’t for them. “Poetry is for everyone and National Poetry Day is too. They say every person makes poetry on a daily basis and poets are simply the people who write it down. Anyone can start writing it down and anyone can enjoy it. You are never too young or old to get involved in poetry. It might not be quite what you expect either. This year’s National Poetry Day calendar shows just how diverse the New Zealand poetry scene really is, with award-winners and emerging voices joining forces from Kaitaia to Southland.”

New Zealand’s Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan will read poetry in Dunedin and 2007-2009 Poet Laureate, Michele Leggott, will MC the annual Auckland Library event with eight poets and wine. Both Vincent and Michele are finalists in the Poetry category of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Two further poetry finalists – Caoilinn Hughes and Marty Smith – are sharing their poetry at events in Wellington.

Highlights for this year’s National Poetry Day are:

Kaitaia – A Feast of Words – Following on from the Far North Poetry Competition (winners announced National Poetry Day), A Feast of Words wraps up National Poetry Day 2014 with a Saturday afternoon of poetry in The Earth House, a unique adobe and mosaic community space in Peria Valley.

Nationwide - Poetry Phone from 9-5. Poetry lovers can call 09 309 POEM or text +64 21 474 555 to have a poem read or texted to them (or their friends or lovers), or to be serenaded with song lyrics.

Auckland – Pop-Up Potluck Poetry Breakfast 7am-9am on Friday, 22 August at 45 Ivanhoe Road, Grey Lynn. Bring a poem and a plate of breakfast food – tea/coffee/juice all supplied. Prizes will be awarded for poetic licence used adeptly, wildly, terrifyingly, well, quite well, audacity, shock-value and admirable restraint!

Auckland Central – Chalking Poetry at Station Square in Newmarket and/or Hobson Wharf at the Viaduct on Friday, 22 August. Hip-hop artists meet performance poets at Iron Bank on K Road at 2pm for a chilled out afternoon session that lets the poetics behind hip-hop shine. Those with a taste for performance poetry can follow on with the New Zealand Poetry Slam Auckland Regional Heat at Thirsty Dog at 8pm.

West Auckland locals can check out poets Bob Orr and John Pule at the French Bay Yacht Club at 2pm, and in the evening choose from an open mic from7pm in Kumeu, or a reading with Sam Sampson and Serie Barford at the McCahon House Museum in Titirangi from 6:30pm.

Auckland and Wellington – Poettiquette: In association with NZ Bus, poets will be turning up on Auckland and Wellington buses on National Poetry Day, performing and writing poems that speak to the theme of public transport etiquette.

Hamilton plays host to a Spoken Word Slam Competition at Garden Place Library, open mic nights at the Library and ArtsPost, as well as a secondary schools poetry workshop and a reading with Paula Green.

Thames - Operation Funny Bone, 7.30pm on Friday, 22 August at the Brew Café and Bar, Pollen Street. An open microphone night of humorous poetry, open to all ages of entrants with original poetry. Prizes for under-18s and over-18s. Winners are decided by the audience, extra points for laughter!

Tauranga Writers – Caught in the Act bring a night of performance poetry, music and open mic to the Mauao Performing Arts Centre from 7 pm on 22 August.

Taupo – Promoting Poetry in the Community – 12-2pm, Thursday – Friday, 21-22 August. Posters promoting poetry will be displayed all around Taupo with family-friendly readings held in the Taupo Post Shop (46 Horomatangi Street) for four days at lunchtime.

New Plymouth at New Plymouth Boys’ High School Library. Alumnus and poet, Andrew McKay is visiting NPBS for a lunchtime poetry reading and seminar with students. 1.30pm

Upper Hutt – 14th annual Upper Hutt Poetry Competition. Write a poem inspired by the theme of ‘Remembrance’ and win prizes for children, teens and adults. Entries to be received by Friday, 8 August and winners announced on National Poetry Day at the Upper Hutt City Library, 844 Fergusson Drive. Children and teens at 5.30pm and adults at 7pm.

Wellington – Seven Poets Read, 12 noon at Unity Books, 57 Willis Street. Seven poets read in this free lunchtime event – hear Marty Smith, Caoilinn Hughes (both finalists in the Poetry category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014), Maria McMillan, Kate Camp, Helen Heath, Emily Dobson and Frances Samuels read fresh new poetry.

Nelson hosts Poems for Pikelets at 4-5pm on Friday, 22 August at the Elma Turner Library, 27 Halifax Street, Nelson. Open mic with a twist - read an original or favourite poem and earn a hot pikelet for each. Nelsonians can also head over to the Port-o-Poetry reading at Page & Blackmore Books for a glass of port and a bit of inspiration.

Christchurch students and city residents can have Poetry for Lunch at the University Bookshop Canterbury with Ben Brown, Roger Hickin, Jeffrey Papamoa Holman and James Norcliffe; the first 20 people there get free coffee. 12noon – 1pm.

Ashburton College students will embark on a journey of metaphors and similes, creation and exploration, rants and raves, snaps and claps and infinite fun! Students will enjoy workshops run by Jason Clements under his pen-name Doc Drumheller. All day Friday, 22 August.

Otago and Southland region – Whistle Stop Tour II. Dunedin poets Kay McKenzie Cooke and Penny Powell embark on a brief poetry tour with poems that relate to the region. Gore Library at 10.30am on Friday, 15 August; Palmerston Library at 10.30am on Friday, 22 August; Oamaru’s Grainstore Gallery at 6pm on Friday, 22 August; and at Middlemarch’s Quench Bar and Café at 6.30pm on Saturday, 23 August.

Wanaka – Wanaka District Library is setting up a Poetry Café for an open mic session in the library. 11am-4.30pm.

Dunedin Library brings together Owen Marshall, Vincent O’Sullivan and Helen Rickerby join with three young poets selected from Dunedin’s secondary schools. Vincent is a finalist in the Poetry section of the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014 and is New Zealand’s Poet Laureate.

For more on National Poetry Day events, go to

New Zealand Post Book Awards – Poetry category finalists

This year 23 poetry books were entered for this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards, with four books being selected as finalists in the Poetry category. Convenor of the judging panel, Miriama Kamo, says, “Poetry in New Zealand is in great shape - the breadth and depth of entries submitted was excellent. It was so pleasing to see two first-time poets in the finalists list, along with current Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan and former Poet Laureate Michele Leggott.”

Finalists in the Poetry category of this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards are:

Gathering Evidence by Caoilinn Hughes, Victoria University Press

Heartland by Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press

Horse with Hat by Marty Smith, Victoria University Press

Us, then by Vincent O’Sullivan, Victoria University Press

People’s Choice closes 8pm on Friday, 15 August

The ever-popular People’s Choice award is the public’s opportunity to vote for their favourite book of the year. Readers can vote online or in a bookstore. Voting for People’s Choice closes at 8pm on Friday, 15 August.

Winners announced on Wednesday, 27 August

The winner of the New Zealand Post Book of the Year will be announced at a glittering ceremony at Wellington’s Te Papa Museum on Wednesday, 27 August. Also announced will be the winners in the four categories – Fiction, Poetry, Illustrated Non-fiction and General Non-fiction, together with the winner of the Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice award and the popular People’s Choice.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and sponsored by New Zealand Post. The awards are also supported by Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens New Zealand.



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