A group that aims to uplift young people through the art of the spoken word are in Rotorua this week challenging local rangatahi (young people) to give poetry a go and participate in a live public performance.

Hamilton's UPLIFT crew accepted an invitation from local artist Angela Frank and Marc Spijkerbosch, the community arts advisor at the Rotorua Lake Council, to hold some workshops in Rotorua. It's the first time the crew has hosted workshops outside of the Waikato region in recognition of National Poetry Day on Friday.

UPLIFT member Hamiora de Thierry said he was excited to work with Rotorua Lakes High School yesterday and Western Heights High School students today.

"Our aim is to inspire rangatahi through the medium of the spoken word because we acknowledge they have a lot of challenges and these wananga (workshops) act as an outlet for them to express themselves."

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The workshops are being held during the schools' lunch breaks and start with a crew performance to give students a taste of what they will learn.

"We drop our own sound to help inspire rangatahi and hype them up to give it a go. We get them into groups to go through exercises like rhymes and vocabulary games. We get them to write a story about their experiences and help them to flesh out their stories," he said.

After the workshops, students will be encouraged to participate in front of the community at the Rotorua Night Market tonght.

Mr de Thierry reckons it's not too difficult to get young people to join the poetry slam or competition.

"It's like a smile, it's contagious. We smile at them and challenge them to come along to perform and they smile back at us. As soon as the first rangatahi stands up to take part another will join them," he said.

Mr Spijkerbosch said the workshops and performance were an opportunity for Rotorua to celebrate poetry.

"It's also a chance to challenge our rangatahi to step outside of their comfort zone and to be inspired by talented poets."

Mr de Thierry said poetry was powerful.

"I wish I found this gift earlier because I know I would have had a tool to improve my education when I was at school. This is the gift I want other young people to realise."

PUBLIC EVENTS

Wednesday: $5 Poetry Shot, McLeod's Booksellers on Pukuatua St, 5.30pm
Thursday: UPLIFT Slam Poets, Rotorua Night Market from 5pm

HIGH SCHOOL PERFORMANCE WORKSHOPS

Wednesday, Rotorua Lakes High School
Thursday, Western Heights High School