Slam poetry comes to Tauranga

Tauranga poet Dhaivat Mehta reading some of his work at The Incubator. Photo: Ryan Wood.

Aspiring poets keen to perform their work live will have a chance to do just that next Wednesday at the Tauranga Poetry Slam.

The event, similar to others held around the country, will serve as a regional heat to find a Bay of Plenty finalist for the 2017 New Zealand National Poetry Slam to be held on November 4 in Hamilton.

Co-organisers Jay Fitton and Dhaivat Mehta say this is the first attempt to have a proper heat here in Tauranga. The evening is free to enter and will run like an open mic night.

“The only rules are the poem has to be three minutes, and there no props allowed. We’re hoping to get in two rounds, depending on how many people turn up,” says Dhaivat.

Slam poetry, or spoken word poetry, is an art form growing in popularity. Its practitioners are often young, marginalised people who verbally deliver poems without the assistance of props or costumes.

Subject matter is often personal or confessional, with social issues and progressive politics hot topics.

“It’s like a shot or slam-dunk. The poetry is very impactful. Some poems are very personal, others socio-political, and a few are spiritual,” says Dhaivat.

Jay, who’s a newcomer to the Bay, entered his first poetry slam in Wellington in 2014 because he wanted to read his work aloud to an audience. He ended up winning, and now wants to grow slam poetry here in Tauranga.

“There isn’t a poetry slam or spoken word poetry scene here at all,” he says. “So we want to give Bay of Plenty residents an opportunity to enter into the national slam. But we also hope it will be a catalyst for regular meet-ups of spoken word poets.”

Elsewhere in Tauranga, the Poetry Incubator runs on the last Tuesday of every month in the Historic Village, giving poets a chance to read their work and discuss poetry, while Tauranga Writers, which is celebrating 50 years this year, counts poets among its ranks.

The Tauranga Poetry Slam is at Astrolabe Bar in Mount Maunganui at 7pm on Wednesday, October 18.