The seven poets taking part in this lunchtime’s poetry session served up a veritable feast of words. The readings were held at the YMCA in a room which proved to be an excellent venue. As chair Bernadette Hall told me, the intimate space was a positive change from large, impersonal lecture rooms which the poets were usually invited to speak in. The appreciative audience enjoyed the opportunity to listen to the work of some of New Zealand’s finest poets up close and personal.
It is always a challenge to review a group poetry reading and do the artists justice. This session was particularly difficult. The poets were all extremely gifted and their styles dissimilar.
Tusiata Avia started the session. Her bold, powerful poems resonate with me now. She’s a skilled performer and it is impossible to take your eyes off her once she starts to read.
Doc Drumheller followed with his unique brand of urban humour. His poem The Wunderbar rang true with all of us who spent our youth in the bar in Lyttelton. His palindromes pieced together from slogans he collects are fascinating.
Kerrin Sharpe read five poems, my favourite of which was Sewing the World. Kerrin teaches at the Hagley Writers’ Institute and her work appears in many New Zealand compilations.
David Eggleton, writer in residence at the University of Canterbury, gave a mesmerising performance. The Colour White and The Drift North are descriptive and insightful. It was a pleasure to see the poems performed as the rhythm of language in an essential feature of his work.
Siobhan Harvey‘s poetry focuses on migration and the issues faced by people who move from the familiar. Relativity is a theme that ties her work together. While Karen Zelas‘ gentle, reflective works gave the audience plenty of food for thought.
The charismatic Ben Brown finished the session. His is a natural born orator and I was so captivated I didn’t miss a word. Unfortunately, I did miss out on the two copies of his CD he had for sale. I’m hoping he will produce another one soon.