Category Archives: Poetry Events

WOW!!! THE BARDS GO WILD 80 Events for National Poetry Day (Friday, 28 August)

A press release:

From seasoned award-winners to newbies facing a microphone for the first time, National Poetry Day — Friday, 28 August —unleashes the power and excitement of poetry for one incredible day of activity all around New Zealand.

Celebrating its 18th year, National Poetry Day 2015 features an astounding 80 events from Kerikeri to Southland and into cyberspace. This year’s calendar holds something for everyone, from aspiring  to established poets, and from those who enjoy poetry to those who think poetry isn’t for them. The 2015 calendar of events offers a way for anyone to get involved in the poetry community, discover New Zealand poets, share their own work or find out what it is all about.

“One of the best things about poetry is you can make it into whatever you want it to be,” says national coordinator, Miriam Barr. “There are no rules in poetry, or rather all the rules are there to be broken and bent. Poetry lets you say what you need to say, the way you want to say it.” This year, the New Zealand poetry community brings you poetry slams, poetry-music jams, poetry art exhibitions, performance poetry, poetry with dance, poetry street-chalking, bookshop readings, famous poets reading their work, writing competitions, open mic events that invite you to share, and a bunch of online events open to  everyone.

The full calendar of events is live online now.  Competitions open for submissions across August and warm-up events kick off the week leading up to National Poetry Day.

Highlights of this year’s National Poetry include:

Nationwide For the first time ever, National Poetry Day will be celebrated with an international link-up: ‘The Ex-Pat Poet’s Portal’ features interviews with and readings by Dr Amy Brown, Jennifer Compton and Anna Forsyth, New Zealand-born poets living in Melbourne. It’s hosted by Melbourne poet and host of La Mama Poetica, Amanda Anastasi, and streamed live on a Google Hangout broadcast, with questions live on Twitter and a YouTube video after the event. There’s also the Poetry Phone, Poems in Your Pocket and more.
Kerikeri  ‘Rhymes in the Vines’ celebrates poetry in Northland at Fat Pig Vineyard with an open mic and wine-tasting to wind-down the day after National Poetry Day on the 29th of August.
Whangarei  An open mic and the launch of Fast Fibres 2, a compilation of poems by Northland poets at Mokaba Café featuring local poets Piet Nieuwland, Michael Botur, Victoria del la Varis-Woodcock, Maureen Sudlow, and more.
Auckland seems to specialise in quirky events. They include readings at the Happy Tea House, Grey Lynn, a poetry-event venue in a converted sleep-out (hot drinks, orange juice, and breakfast supplied); a poetry walk that starts at the phone box outside Carl’s Junior, next to Aotea Square, and to get people warmed up, the ninth annual ‘Resurrection Night’, in which poets dress up as or pay homage to a dead poet. Slightly more mainstream and totally engaging are readings at the Takapuna Library with Robert Sullivan and others; ‘All Tomorrow’s Poets’, showcasing 10 young poets, in the tiny space above Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden; the twelfth annual reading event by the marvellous ‘Divine Muses’ with Siobhan Harvey, Tusiata Avia and Jack Ross among the line-up; ‘Poetry Central’, an evening of poetry reading and festivities at Auckland Central City Library.
West Auckland Kumeu An open mic night. Bethells Beach: The “We” Society Poetry Day Wrap Party launches the society’s anthology at Te Henga Studios.
South Auckland A poetry slam at Manukau Institute of Technology, featuring Courtney Sina Meredith.
Hamilton An open mic night followed by a poetry slam at the Garden Place Library; ‘Poetry and Paint’, in which poems become paintings, at the University of Waikato’s Art Fusion Gallery, and  an exhibition of the work created at ‘Poetry and Paint’ with a night of performance poetry.

Katikati Three events, including the annual Haiku Poetry Path prize-draw and an open mic event at Browny’s Café.
Palmerston North Five events, including the Pamutana Poetry Picnic, New Zealand poems set to music by New Zealand composers and performed by the Palmerston North Girls’ High School chamber choir, and the Wisdom Lounge, a digital exhibition showcasing poems and poetic proverbs from Manawatu and around the world.
Wairoa Three events, including the announcement of the winners of the local  poetry competition — Te Roto, Te Awa, Te Moana -The Lake, the River, the Ocean, for poems in English or Te Reo Māori  on one of these themes.
Havelock North  The enterprising owners of Wardini Books have three events: an after-school event, an open mic night and a competition for poets aged between five and 18, judged by Paula Green and Emily Dobson, and open to the entire Hawkes Bay region.
New Plymouth Three events, including a competition for poems about Taranaki, a ‘mix and match’ poetry-making event and a poetry walk on the city’s foreshore. Chalk supplied.
Dannevirke The winner of the Tararua District Library’s Online Poetry Competition is announced.
Wairarapa poetry rolls through the district with an incredible number of events in one day at Pukaha, Featherston, Masterton, Greytown, Martinborough, Carterton and West Taratahi.

Wellington and its surrounding regions are surely a New Zealand poetry epicentre, with an outstanding seven events. They include:National Poetry Day Warm-Up at Te Papa in which eight poets with poems in in Best NZ Poems 2014 (John Dennison, Dinah Hawken, Anna Jackson, Gregory O’Brien, Claire Orchard, Nina Powles, Helen Rickerby and Kerrin P Sharpe) read their poems; Unity Books has a lunchtime reading titled ‘6 Poets in 60 Minutes’; Vic Books at the University has reading and music; at the Kapiti Coast Library, the winners of the Laughing Out Loud poetry competition are announced during an open mic night; in Upper Hutt the winners of the 15th annual Upper Hutt Poetry Competition will be announced at two events at the Upper Hutt City Library; and in Woburn, Lower Hutt there’s a reading of poems about the landscape.
Nelson has six events, including four events at the Elma Turner Library (including ‘Poems for Pikelets’) and Stoke Library, an inspired window of poems at Page and Blackmore Booksellers, open to contributions from people anywhere in the country), and a reading at Page and Blackmore which will also announce the winner of their nationwide Animal Laureate poetry competition.
In Christchurch there are readings at the South Library, Sydenham, and the Hagley Writer Institute has two events, including a workshop and the announcement of the winners of their poetry competition.
Dunedin The Dunedin Public Library is a stellar supporter of National Poetry Day, and 2015 is no exception. This year, during ‘Many Happy Returns’, glasses will be raised to toast Dunedin’s literary treasures on National Poetry Day. This year Poetry Day coincides with the birthday of Dunedin writer, the late Janet Frame. MC’d by Diane Brown, with readings from, Hinemoana Baker, David Eggleton and 2015 Burns Fellow Louise Wallace, as well as three rising stars selected from the Dunedin Secondary Schools Poetry Competition. The evening culminates in the announcement of the 2015 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award recipient.

Oamaru has two events including a performance by David Eggelton and the Spinemark Poetry Challenge.
Tiny Outram hosts J & K Rolling’s Outriders Poetry Tour, an open mic session plus readings of southern poems by Jenny Powell, Kay McKenzie Cooke and Richard Reeve.
Cromwell Paper Plus is holding an open mic event and announcing the winners of its Youth Poetry Competition, for poems about central Otago.
Greymouth The District library announces the winners of its poetry competition winners, and there’s a tour of local poets to three local rest homes.
Gore Jenny Powell and Kay Mackenzie Cooke are on tour, there’s a huge poetry display in the library, and an open mic lunchtime the week following Poetry Day.

It’s an amazing line-up! For more details on National Poetry Day events (including times, entry cost etc), go to

National Poetry Day is managed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, which also administers the New Zealand Book Awards and the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. In 2015, the Day is administered for the Trust by Booksellers New Zealand and funded by Creative New Zealand.

Media please note:
National Poetry Day Coordinator, Miriam Barr, is available for interview.
Participating poets and event organisers in your area are also available for interview. Contact details are on the calendar of events for individual events organisers.

For further information please contact Sarah Forster, Booksellers New Zealand
T:  04 815 8367 E:

Many Happy Returns: Dunedin Celebrates NZ Poetry Day

National Poetry Day is also Janet Frame’s birthday, and here in Dunedin there will be a poetry feast at the Library: the winners of the Dunedin Secondary Schools Poetry competition will perform their winning poems along with performances by Landfall editor David Eggleton, 2015 Burns Fellow Louise Wallace and special guest Hinemoana Baker. Poet Diane Brown will MC.
6 – 7.45 pm, Friday 28 August, refreshments from 5.30 pm.

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Morgan Bach’s launch at Wellington’s award-winning Unity Books -Would love to be there for this! Can’t wait to read it


Victoria University Press warmly invites to the launch of

Some of Us Eat the Seeds
by Morgan Bach

6pm–7.30pm on Thursday 16 July
at Unity Books, 57 Willis St, Wellington.

About Some of Us Eat the Seeds:
Morgan Bach weaves a line between waking life and the unstable dreamworld beneath, disorienting and reorienting us from moment to moment. In poems of childhood, family, travel and relationships, she responds to the ache and sometimes horror of life in a voice that is restless and witty, bold and sharp-edged.

‘It’s ordinary and extraordinary. It’s the kind of arrival that delights me.’ – Bernadette Hall

Nina Powles on Vona Groarke in conversation with Cliff Fell at the City Gallery ‘I’m interested in words being placed on top of other words; words landing on top of their own shadow’


Vona Groarke in conversation with Cliff Fell at the City Gallery,

Wellington. 21 May, 2015



the lit window summons the dark

as if from one frame of mind to another,


as if from one future to a future opposite

runs a tripwire of desire.


— Vona Groarke, ‘The Courtyards of Vilhelm Hammershøi’, from X



In the dimly lit auditorium, attended by a good crowd for a rainy Thursday afternoon, Groarke begins by reading from a sequence of poems about her garden, from her latest collection, X. She acknowledges the difficulty in writing about one’s garden—so many people have done it before. But this didn’t daunt her. She talks about putting aside how certain subjects have been written about in the past, and seeing how you can make it grow in your own small patch.

Her poems—and the things she says when she talks about her poems—keep coming back to the idea of ‘negotiating the territory between an object’s physical reality and its metaphorical resonance.’ A murmur ripples through the audience. These are exactly the moments in her poems that catch me—the way we’re suddenly shown two layers of reality at once, in so few words.

When asked about the characteristics of Irish poetry, Groarke smiles and says there might be things that can be identified as Irish inside poems, ‘but all these things don’t necessarily add up to an Irish poem’. Her answer reminds me of things people often say about New Zealand poetry and the impossibility of defining what ‘a New Zealand poem’ is.

She reads one of her ekphrastic poems, ‘La Route’, about a painting by André Derain. It reads ‘your footprints in the dust / fall upon footprints in the dust’. She comes back to this particular image later in the conversation: ‘I’m interested in words being placed on top of other words; words landing on top of their own shadow.’ Reading the poem on the page certainly has this effect, but hearing it aloud is another thing—hearing the words land on top of their echo.

Vona-Groarke  Vona-Groarke  Vona-Groarke  Vona-Groarke   Vona-Groarke

Groarke has many poems about paintings, including a haunting sequence in X about the work of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi who paints empty rooms with mere traces of human presence left inside them. Looking at a painting sometimes triggers a poem, she says, but not always. When asked about where she finds inspiration, she says there’s no single place; they can come from anywhere. ‘You don’t get better or faster at writing poems. You get better at learning to recognise when something has happened that might result in a poem.’ I sense a murmur of agreement around me. ‘That unpredictability, that not knowing when or where a poem will spring from,’ she says, ‘that keeps me writing.’

As the conversation drew to its end, Groarke read the opening passage of her translation of EibhlÍn Dubh NÍ Chonnaill’s ‘Lament for Art O’Leary,’ a poem extemporised in the Irish keening tradition and considered one of the greatest 18th century Irish poems. She finished with two poems about her daughter. One – an account of a visit to Haworth – focused on an exhibit of Charlotte Bronte’s underwear. As Groake asked of the audience, why would anyone want to exhibit someone else’s underwear, let alone Charlotte Bronte’s? Why, indeed?


Irish poet, Vona Groarke, has published six collections with Gallery Press. Her poems have  appeared in the following places: Yale Review, The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, The Guardian, The Times and Poetry Review. Vona currently edits Poetry Ireland Review and teaches poetry in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. Vona was judge of the Sarah Broom Poetry Award in 2015 and appeared at the Award session at the Auckland Writers Festival in May.

Nina Powles lives in Wellington and is studying towards an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML. Her debut chapbook Girls of the Drift was published by Seraph Press in 2014, from which a poem was selected by Vincent O’Sullivan for Best New Zealand Poems 2014. Her non-fiction writing, ranging from book reviews to essays about whales, has appeared in Salient and Turbine.

Girls-of-the-Drift-cover-web Nina

Donations are now being sought for IIML’s National School’s Poetry Award 2015.

Donations are now being sought for IIML’s National School’s Poetry Award 2015.

Set up by Bill Manhire in 2003, this award is a golden opportunity for secondary-school students keen on creative writing.

As Tim Fraser, Hutt International Boys’ School, 2013 runner-up says: ‘The National School’s Poetry Award was something I never thought I could place in but I did it, ever hopeful. Getting in the top ten has much improved my confidence in my own skills. I will definitely continue to create poetry and certainly this Award has been a booster towards my belief in my abilities.’

Margie McLaren, who teaches at Baradene College, is also convinced: ‘The main benefit is the new confidence instilled in the students about the value of poetry in a utilitarian world which does not always attach the significance to poetry that it deserves . . . The Award is an affirmation of the many benefits of working with and celebrating language, and the special ways in which poetry can reflect human experience. The opportunity of entering for the Award has been a very positive and rewarding experience.’

You can donate here.

National Poetry Day returns for its 18th year – Registrations are now open


National Poetry Day returns for its 18th year – Registrations are now open

The highly popular and eclectic National Poetry Day will be staged for its 18th year on 28 August 2015. A varied programme of events around the country will celebrate poetry in its many forms and engage with writers and readers at all levels.

“National Poetry Day is a golden opportunity to celebrate New Zealand poetry not just within extended poetry communities but also within mainstream contexts … Across the nation, a range of eclectic and stimulating events demonstrate new ways to promote the joy of poetry,” says poet Paula Green.

Damien Wilkins, Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University says, “The Day is an incredibly valuable opportunity to connect readers and writers …The broad range of poets and events, as well as its national reach, make this a highly significant date on the literary calendar.”

In 2015, you can keep abreast of poetry day developments with the National Poetry Day blog ( It’s dedicated to reviewing New Zealand poetry and keeping those involved as coordinators for Poetry Day events informed about registrations and progress. It is bound to become a hub for poetry lovers nationwide.

This is the first year that National Poetry Day has had no association with the New Zealand Book Awards, and it is funded through a grant from Creative NZ. “We are extremely grateful for CNZ’s support of this year’s event,” says Nicola Legat, chair of the Book Awards Trust, which manages National Poetry Day, with the help of Booksellers NZ.

“They are supporting an amazing grassroots event that takes all sorts of wonderful forms, from poetry readings in libraries and halls to random acts of poetry in the public street.”

Miriam Barr is back on board as National Coordinator, and delighted to be involved in this important programme of events in 2015.

Registrations are now open to enrol your event for National Poetry Day. The combined registration and funding application form can be found online here. All registered events and activities will be included in the official calendar of events.

Event Registrations and Funding Applications both close on Monday, 25 May. For further information and to enrol your event, fill in the form online, or after 31 March, contact Miriam Barr, National Coordinator Poetry Day 2015

Important Links:
Registration and Funding application form
NZ National Poetry Day blog
National Poetry Day Facebook page

Media contact:
Nicola Legat
Chairperson, Book Awards Trust
Phone: 021 958 887

General contact for physical forms before 31 March:
Sarah Forster
Booksellers NZ

Important Dates:
25 May                 Deadline for registration and closing day for funding applications
1 June                   Funding Applications confirmed to applicants
19 August            National media release sent out
28 August            National Poetry Day



Guests: South Auckland Poets Collective ( SAPC NZ)

MCs: BARAKA 11 00am – 1 00pm; SUSI NEWBORN 1 30pm – 3 30pm
closing: KATY SOLJAK; featuring scheduled poets

non-smoking event, free entry, some open mic slots avail.

Where: Artworks Amphitheatre, backcourt,Waiheke Library, off Oceanview Rd, Oneroa

When: Sunday 22nd March 11 00am – 3 30pm