Poetry at WORD Christchurch – 31 August to 4 September

There is a great lineup of poetry events at WORD Christchurch Festival. New Zealand's new Poet Laureate Chris Tse will be in town.

Have a look at what's on at WORD for poetry fans:

Christchurch Poetry Slam Wednesday 31 August 7pm to 9pm
$10 on the door

This is the rough diamond in the crown of the poetry calendar, where poets set aside the niceties and throw down like their lives depend on it. Did they nail it? You be the judge: the audience rules at the Poetry Slam. Hosted by Doc Drumheller and Ciaran Fox.

Magazine-in-Residence: Takahē Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 September 12noon to 4pm

Drop in each day to meet their dynamic editorial team and get a peek behind the scenes at a literary magazine. See them editing and laying out the limited-edition zine, with artists and writers present to show their process, plus short talks from special guests. On Sunday at 4pm in Foundation, help to launch the finished product with readings and toasts. Submit your poetry and short fiction (up to 1000 words) in te reo or English in person, or via email at submissions@takahe.org.nz, opens a new window

The Museum of Unruly Desires Thursday 1 September 6pm to 8pm

Take an after-dark stroll through the halls and galleries of the museum, with an all-star line-up of poets waiting beside favourite taonga to read work that illuminates these treasures in brilliant and surprising ways. Afterwards, regain your senses with a drink from the cash bar among the taxidermied menagerie of the Bird Hall. Poets include Frances Samuel, Robert Sullivan, Rebecca Hawkes, Erik Kennedy and Joanna Preston.

Out here: An anthology of takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers from Aotearoa Friday 2 September 4pm to 5pm

For decades, homophobia and erasure have been the norm in Aotearoa. In the new Out Here anthology, myriad Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ writers set out to fill the silence with humour and bite, intelligence and verve. Join the anthology’s editors Chris Tse (New Zealand's new Poet Laureate) and Emma Barnes for a deep dive into the brilliance and diversity of Queer writing today, with commentary and readings from special guests including Sam Duckor-Jones, Ray Shipley, AJ Fitzwater, Sascha Stronach and essa may ranapiri.

Out Here

Celebrating Culture and Sister Cities Friday 2 September 7pm to 8pm

Five New Zealand poets join forces with five Chinese musicians from the New Zealand Hubei Economic Trade Cultural Association, in celebration of the sister city relationship between Waimakariri and Enshi, China, and 50 years of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand. With Ben Brown, Daisy Lavea-Timo, Erik Kennedy, Annabel Wilson and Ciaran Fox, plus young Chinese writers from the Write On School for Young Writers, and Doc Drumheller launching his haiku collection, Drinking With Li Bai.

Drinking With Li Bai

Ray Shipley's Late Night Poetry Hour Friday 2 September 9pm to 11pm
Book tickets

Christchurch’s favourite nocturnal salon brings together visiting out-of-towners and hot locals for a memorable night of poetry, shenanigans, feelings and staying up far too late. The one and only Ray Shipley hosts Dominic Hoey, Mohamed Hassan, Vana Manasiadis and Emma Barnes.

No other place to stand: Creativity and Climate Change Saturday 3 September 4.30pm to 5.30pm

How do we adapt, mitigate and create in response to the climate crisis? Join human rights and climate campaigner Kera Sherwood-O’Regan and the editors of the new No Other Place to Stand climate poetry anthology, Erik Kennedy, essa may ranapiri and Rebecca Hawkes, for a conversation about art and activism. How can poetry get us past the language of science and policy to where the ecological and human meet? With readings from contributors including Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i and Philip Armstrong.

No Other Place to Stand

Foundation Pop-Up Festival Saturday 3 September 5pm to 10pm
$5 on the door

Our festival-within-a-festival is back for another marathon of stunning performances and outrageous gimmicks, in a showcase of Ōtautahi and Aotearoa’s finest word people.

Featuring close to 50 performers, and curated by WORD’s own programmer-at-large, Audrey Baldwin, 2022’s pop-up is a seven-course feast covering amuse-bouche haiku, new release entrees, a fresh soup of emerging talent, tāngata moana kai moana, the meat and potatoes of algorithms doing violence to classic literature, then on to a bittersweet dessert of heartbreak and lust…with karaoke to close. Drop in and out at any time.


Amuse bouche 5.15pm – 5.35pm

A little somethin’ somethin to whet the appetite? A wee morsel to tease the tongue? We’re starting off with some short and tasty texts. Perhaps a haiku, a Limerick, a ditty. Dynamite comes in small packages, and these pieces will be just that.

Dominic Hoey
Ben O’Connell
Ava Strother
Kidd’ (Hsin-Yi) Chien

Entree 5.45pm – 6.25pm

A good entree leaves you ready for more! We’ll hear from a handful of writers who have new publications, hot off the press and ready for you to devour. An opportunity to find out more about the key ingredients and techniques that go into a perfectly balanced book via quickfire questions and tantalising excerpts.

Luke Elworthy
Frankie Macmillan
Chloe Lane
Nick Bollinger

Kaimoana 6.35pm – 7.15pm

We’ve netted some amazing tangata moana performers, ready to soak your senses with powerful poems and prose. You’ll be hooked!

Tina Makereti
Danielle O’Halloran -Thyne
Isla Martin
Juanita Hepi

Soup Du Jour 7.25pm – 8.05pm

Curated by Josiah Morgan, a selection of young writers showcasing fresh works to challenge and delight.

Noah McKay
Josiah Morgan
Grace Prodanov
Grace Opie
Freddy Thornton
Cerys Fletcher
Hannah-Grace Horton

Weird Stew Made by Robots 8.15pm – 8.50pm

Robots vs Classics is back! In this comedic course, we invite writers to feed a classic text of their choice through a digital process. See what robots such as google tanslate do to staple literary works by Shakespeare, Austen or ….Ed Sheeran?

Claudia Jardine
Vana Manasiadis
Frances Samuel
Ricky Townsend
Brannavan Gnanalingam

Dessert 9.00pm – 9.40pm

You can’t have the sweet without the salty; join these delectable poets as they share bittersweet stories of heartbreak, heart ache, lust and idealism.

Laura Borrowdale
Cassie Hart
Rebecca K Reilly
Hester Ulyart
Dominic Hoey
Chris Tse

Digestif 9.50pm – 10pm

A playful digestif to get the (spontaneous, organised-on-the-spot) after-party started – brave writers read aloud a mystery poem from a sealed envelope and perform it as best they can – it’s lucky dip poetry karaoke!

With special guests.

The Stardust Cabaret Saturday 3 September 7.30pm to 9pm

Carl Sagan said, ‘We are made of star-stuff.’ This festival night, get cosy in the Little Andromeda bar and enjoy star-stuff-infused spoken word performances, MC’d by the glitter-bright RikTheMost. Let poets, spec-fic authors, observationists and storytellers sprinkle fabulosity and help you to travel the cosmos. With Rebecca HawkesSam Duckor-Jones, Ray ShipleySascha StronachKahu Tumai and more. Curated by A.J. Fitzwater, with all proceeds going to support local charity Qtopia.

Confluence 2.0 Saturday 3 September 8.30pm to 10pm

After its resounding success in 2021, Confluence returns with a brand-new line-up of Pasfika and Māori musicians and poets for a joyous celebration of the cultural, musical and ancestral connections between the islands of Polynesia and Aotearoa. With Daisy Speaks as your curator and host, and the Judah Band laying down epic grooves, tune in for the stylings of Karlo Mila, The Soakai Brothers (Dietrich, Eric and Zech), Robert Sullivanessa may ranapiri, Micahlei Timo and special musical guest Mahalia Simpson.

Make it, Say it, Do it now Sunday 4 September 2pm to 6pm

Have you got a message to spread or a story to tell? Ever wanted to write or make a zine or put a slogan on a badge? We’re handing over WORD’s beautiful venue The Faraway Near for a mashup of free workshops, stalls and hands-on creative crafts. Check out The Conscious Club‘s Maker’s Market of local ethical goods, the Rainbow Reading Club with Emma Barnes, Kerry Donovan Brown and Chris Tse, writing workshops with Dominic Hoey and Claudia Jardine, and an open mic with RikTheMost for you poets on the rise. If you’re under 25 and into making meaning rather than consuming it, come on down.

Poetry for the nervous - reading it, writing it, getting it: Workshop with Joanna Preston Sunday 4 September 3pm to 5pm

Join Joanna Preston, winner of the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry at the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, for this two-hour workshop designed to bring you gently into the world of poetry. Look at some of the ways poems are put together and try your hand at writing some yourself. Perfect for complete beginners, this workshop offers a mixture of writing exercises, some reading and discussion of contemporary poems.

Browse all the poetry events at WORD Christchurch

There's also another poetry event at Canterbury WEA over the WORD weekend. 

BLACKOUT: An Introduction to Alternative Poetry – Josiah Morgan Saturday 3rd September, 10.30am-1.30pm

Between the inception of the Dada movement in the 1920s and the Beat poets in the 1960s, poetry transformed. Poems no longer had to be about meter, rhyming, and line breaks. All of a sudden, poems could be just about anything.  In this one-off workshop, we will explore experimental and alternative poetry methods including blackout poetry, cut-up poetry and Oulipian constraints. These poetry methods are accessible to all and you do not need to feel confident in your writing skills to participate.

Children over 14 years and over can attend unaccompanied to this event with children between the ages of 10-14 welcome to attend with a caregiver.  If the caregiver is not actually participating in the session they need not pay for a ticket.

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