A troupe of Northland poets are getting ready to represent their region at a first-of-its-kind national poetry gathering.
The NZ Poetry Conference and Festival 2017 is being held November 10-12 in Auckland. The event is organised by a group of experienced Auckland poets and supported by NZ Society of Authors, Auckland Council, Stylus Trust and NZ Poetry Society.
A troupe of Northlanders known as the Poetry Posse will be representing Te Tai Tokerau. After having met at the ‘Dirty Word’ monthly poetry readings at Whangarei’s Old Butter Factory in 2015, the Poetry Posse formed in 2016. Members have different statuses and roles in the writing community, including emceeing, publicity, working at arts festivals and mentoring younger poets. The show ‘Northland Noise,’ which they have prepared for the festival, is the first time the Poetry Posse have written a shared stage project together.
The five current members of the Poetry Posse are Vivian Thonger, Vincent Nathan, Brett Ruys, Nga-Atawhainga Manukau and Michael Botur.
Organiser Michael Botur said the one hour Northland Noise show they are preparing for the November festival begins with a rap about Northland, then the rest of the show consists of the five performers presenting poems in his or her personal style, bookended with group performance and movement.
Botur said he is particularly proud of the diversity within the group.
“Our poets range in age from their 20s to their 50s, we are two ladies and three dudes and we come from Māori, British, Dutch and Polish backgrounds. Our voices are all very distinctive but that’s what the Poetry Posse is all about: supporting one another’s differences. Being so different under one brand means we each come across as fresh and unique on stage.”
Botur said it has been hard fitting rehearsals into everyone’s busy lives but the group were determined that Northland – a ‘minnow’ in terms of literary renown – should have a presence.
“I feel we are the underdogs at the festival so we’ll have to deliver twice as good a performance as the next guys. We live in a province with a tiny fraction of the country’s population, not terribly much creative writing going on and not much money going around to allow people the freedom to take time off to write, so we’re doing everything we can to show the rest of the country that our region holds just as much talent as everywhere else.”
Botur said the Poetry Posse also hopes to raise awareness of slam poetry as an art form and find new members.
Head to Poets of Northland on Facebook for more information.
All information about the November 10-12 NZ Poetry Conference and Festival 2017 can be found at: https://www.stylustrust.co.nz/
By Michael Botur