The Pantograph Punch Recommends: National Poetry Day
National Poetry Day, newly subsumed into the inaugural NZ Post Book Awards festival, is this Friday, August 16th. A bit of a moveable feast in the past, it's usually marked by readings and performances by those small and dedicated regional cores who live and breathe meter, but not by anyone else - with any luck, the festive new setting ought to give it a well-deserved boost. The same date in history has delivered unto us the death of Elvis, the birth of Madonna and the first Ramones show at CBGB. No pressure.
There’s plenty planned for Friday across the isles - tomorrow night offers the almost-ridiculous spectre of about half a dozen poetry events jostling for your time in Central Auckland - but here are some of our picks of this year’s National Poetry Day (hereafter NPD) events:
Union Street Event Centre (USEC)
47 Union St, Auckland CBD
7pm / Free / Drinks & BYO
The Auckland-based poetry journal Minarets has been a “sort-of quarterly publication” for a year now, ardently focused on the newer and playful end of the form and using a variety of impromptu venues to play with multimedia formats, meaning that it's about as far away from the horrible turtlenecked open-mic stereotype as you can get. Their shindig highlights poets from all four issues to date (and from around the country), gathered together for the first-time for this event at the artist-run USEC studio space. The lineup: Ross Brighton, Ashleigh Young, Iain Britton, Gregory Kan, Sarah Natalie Webster and Samuel Carey.
Alongside the live readings, posters of poems by Alex Taylor (recently profiled here), Jackson Nieuwland, Rebecca Nash and Joan Fleming are being installed at the venue, and there’ll be a video exhibit of ‘macro poetry’ projections from Michael Hessel-Mial and James Ganas (USA).
We also have one of Minarets' poetry posters available for you to download this week: I's I's by Sarah Natalie Webster.
Whare Wananga, Level 2, Auckland Central Library
44-46 Lorne Street
5.30 – 7pm / Free / Wine
If NPD (poetry in general, really) wasn’t enough of an excuse to drink wine in a library, tomorrow will also be the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre’s 12th birthday.
Appropriately, the NZEPC's coordinator and former New Zealand Poet Laureate Michele Leggott is reading, along with the current laureate Ian Wedde and a host of other distinguished poets: Janet Charman, Murray Edmond, Anne Kennedy, Jack Ross, Lisa Samuels and Robert Sullivan.
For those keeping track, Wedde and Kennedy and also up for NZ Post Book Awards this year.
The Divine Muses X Poetry Reading
Gus Fisher Art Gallery
74 Shortland Street, Auckland
6.30 – 8.30pm / Free
The tenth edition of ‘Divine Muses’, will mix readings from well-known poets and emerging talents. The latter will be supplied in the form of the winners of the NEW VOICES competition – they’ll be announced on the night and invited to deliver their winning poems. The cast of established names: C. K. Stead, Albert Wendt, Riemke Ensing, Kiri Pihana Wong, Siobhan Harvey and MC, Rosetta Allen.
9pm-late / $5 / R18
Does what it says on the box: less a formal poetry reading, more a poetry-inspired knees-up (with its own house beer on tap). That said, there’ll be an open mic and there’s a spoken word set from Tourettes in the offing. Page2Stage and Printable Reality have even organised for an arts and crafts session with writer Raewyn Alexander (we’re not entirely sure what this entails, but perhaps expect to wake up with glitter in your hair). Call this the unofficial NPD after-party.
Hue & Cry – Selected Poems
31 Glenvervie Tce
6pm / Free / BYO + cup
While “literary slash art” journal Hue&Cry has been in print since 2007, its publishing arm was only launched last year. The first book off the Hue&Cry Press, a poetry collection by Sarah Jane Barnett titled ‘A Man Runs Into A Woman’, is by a stroke of good taste now a finalist in this year’s NZ Post awards - it's also profiled in this week's Listener (the David Shearer one, sorry).
It’s no surprise then to see Barnett on the lineup for Hue & Cry’s NPD reading, where she’ll be joined by Pip Adam, Isobel Cairns, Therese Lloyd, Lawrence Patchett, Rachel Sawaya and Steven Toussaint.
Finalists in discussion
57 Willis Street
12pm – 12:45pm / Free
Okay, so this isn’t a poetry event per se, but it’s happening on Friday and is probably how you’d like to spend your lunchtime if you had the chance (and you do). Gigi Fenster and Emily Perkins are fiction finalists in the NZ Post Book Awards and will be in discussion with Victoria University Press’ Fergus Barrowman, along with Lawrence Patchett (winner of the NZ Society of Authors’ Hubert Church Best First Book for Fiction award). They’ll probably talk about books.
Ways Of Looking
Somewhere in Wellington
Matilda Fraser is now onto the third iteration of her 'Ways Of Looking' project, a public sculpture series based around Wellington. Without giving away the mechanics, several of her 'poetry machines' are based around town, with at least one in the aforementioned Unity, and another in an very recognisable location in the photo above. See how many you can find!
Phantom Billstickers presents: Kiwi Poets
Addington Coffee Co-Op
Lincoln Road, Christchurch
7.30pm / Free
If you’ve ever seen a poem glued up next to a Rihanna tour poster, you probably have Phantom Billstickers to thank. Their ‘Poems on Posters’ project has been running now for half a decade, and has seen the work of 70 New Zealand poets posted up in cities here, as well as in the US and the UK. Phantom’s NPD reading features Tusiata Avia, Ben Brown, John Pule, Jay Clarkson, David Eggleton and Frankie McMillan.
National Poetry Day 2013: Poetry Portal
Port Chalmers Library
Beach Street, Port Chalmers
6.30 – 8.00pm / Free / Wine and nibbles
Dunedin poetry votaries need look no further than the Port Chalmers Library on Friday night - given its rep as a fishing and port hub-turned-artists' colony, it's probably the natural Southern base camp. The mostly-local cast features Rhian Gallagher (last year’s winner of the NZ Post Book Award for Poetry), Emma Neale, Vincent O’Sullivan, Brian Turner, Lynley Edmeades and David Goodwin. Dunedin writer Sue Wootton to MC.
We're aware that there's likely to be a host of other places around the country saving the date, and we know this is just the four centres. It'd be nice to have some sort of low-key gig guide for the small, suburban and modest stuff that tends to get swallowed by A&P Shows and hardhouse raves - but in the meantime, any public library worth its shelves will probably be hosting something, or at least know where things are happening. So go twist their arms!