The Bards Go Wild: 80 Fantastic Events for National Poetry Day, Friday 28 August

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 and 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.

“Poetry is great because 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, bent and stretched. This year, the New Zealand poetry community brings you slam poetry, performance poetry, poetry-music jams, poetry art exhibitions, poetry with dance, poetry street-chalking, open mics, bookshop readings, famous poets reading their work, writing competitions and a bunch of online events open to anyone.”

Highlights of this year’s National Poetry Day 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.
  • 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 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; ‘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. The "We" Society Poetry Day Wrap Party launches the society’s anthology at the Te Henga Studios, Bethells Beach.
  • 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’ and 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 Maori on one of these themes — will be announced on Poetry Day.
  • Havelock North: The enterprising owners of Wardini Books have three events: a competition for poets aged between five and 18, judged by Paula Green and Emily Dobson, an after-school event and an open mic night.
  • 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 Upper Hutt 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 (John Dennison, Dinah Hawken, Anna Jackson, Gregory O’Brien, Claire Orchard, Nina Powles, Helen Rickerby and Kerrin P Sharpe) with poems in in Best NZ Poems 2014 read their poems; Unity Books has a lunchtime reading titled ‘60 Poems 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 five 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, and a reading at Page and Blackmore which will also announce the winner of its Animal Laureate poetry competition.
  • In Christchurch there are readings at the South Library, Sydenham, and the Hagley Writer Institute has two events, including the announcement of the winners of its poetry competiton.
  • 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, Hinemoa 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 the 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!