Auckland Writers Festival: Poetry in motion

King Kapisi. Photo / Sarah Ivey
King Kapisi. Photo / Sarah Ivey

They say all good things must come to an end and this year, the Auckland Writers Festival farewells one of its regular fixtures.

After a decade, Poetry Idol takes its final bow and founder/organiser Penny Ashton says she wants the performance poetry competition to end on a high note. "I think it's run its natural course and I'd rather end things when it's still good rather than watch them slowly fizzle out," says Ashton, a well-known comedian, marriage celebrant and actor who has been performing her own comedic poetry since the early 2000s. "It's time for someone else to come along, take it over - probably not in its current format - and do something new with it."

She says it owes much of its success to being part of the Auckland Writers Festival. In the 10 years since Poetry Idol started, the likes of Zane Scarborough, Grace Taylor, John Carr, Whaitiri Mikaere, Amanda Kennedy, Tim Heath, Miriam Barr and Jai McDonald have all claimed the grand prize, while judges have included poet/rapper Tourettes, King Kapisi and Graham Brazier.

Ashton has aimed to ensure the standard is high and performances varied; contenders have ranged from an 18-year-old to an 87-year-old. Two poets face off in the final, with the audience deciding they ultimate winner.

• This year's finale will be Mced by Ashton and judged by Jan Maree, Carrie Rudzinski and Zane Scarborough. Meanwhile, poet Tusiata Avia launches Fale Aitu/Spirit House on Wednesday at Tautai: Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust at 5.30pm.

Poetry Idol, Auckland Writers Festival, Lower NZI Room, Aotea Centre; Saturday, May 14, 7.30pm

- NZ Herald

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