Radio Kidnappers poetry show host Jeremy Roberts has been hosting the community poetry show for around six years. I caught up with Jeremy to find out more about the show and how it all began.

How did the Radio Kidnappers show begin?

Poet Bill Sutton from Hawke's Bay Live Poets was the original interviewer and organiser of the show. The idea was to raise the profile of local poetry and to help make more people aware of live poetry readings in Hawke's Bay and hopefully, attend. Guest poets have the spotlight on them and their work. The radio show also brings attention to visiting poetry guests from outside our region. This format continues.

How long has the show been running?


It started in mid-2014. I began hosting the show in 2017.

What is the show called?

Hawke's Bay Poetry Live.

When is it on and how long is your slot?

Saturday afternoons at 2pm for one hour.

What is the format of the show?

A guest poet is interviewed about their involvement with poetry and gets to read a number of poems for listeners to enjoy. I always introduce the poet with some biography first. Listeners are usually able to get in touch with the poet and source their work. Interesting stories always emerge during our discussion and the poems themselves can often be seen as personal histories which can be valued as local or New Zealand history. Poems might be brand new or they might be several decades old. Such stories are a valid alternative to the academic/political histories of our region. There are also sometimes guests from outside our region, who are visiting to give a poetry reading.

Can you name a few of the poets you have had on?


Marie Dunningham, Carole A. Stewart, Dave Sharp, Marty Smith, David Chan, Erice Fairbrother, Dorothy Wharehoka ...

How do poets get to go on your show?

I have good knowledge of active poets in Hawke's Bay and beyond, and so I normally contact them and ask if they would like to be interviewed. Sometimes, a poet have just published a new collection of work, so that always makes for an interesting interview and reading.

Do you have absolute beginners or more seasoned poets?

It is normally people who have been writing or participating in live poetry events for a while. They certainly need to have a number of completed poems and feel confident about reading them on the radio! I like to have a broad range of poets actually, including those who are well-published and those who perhaps have not had a lot of work published, but might have been a regular attendee at local open mic meetings. What I have learned is that the people who are not well-published and perhaps known only within our region are usually every bit as interesting and committed to the art of poetry as anyone you could name. That is, they take the writing of poetry seriously. It is always true - these people have had very interesting lives.
Do you have to settle the nerves of any of your guests?

Not to any great extent. Some guests will just talk freely as thoughts come to mind, some write out what they want to say first. It is entirely up to the guest.


Do you talk about Live Poets on the show?

Yes we do. One of the regular questions is what is the role of poetry in the community, and how the open mic meetings function - what they offer, etc. Why people come. There is a consensus that says that live events are a wonderful chance for voices in the community to be heard - in an articulate way.

Can you tell me a bit about Live Poets?

Napier Live Poets meet on the first Monday of each month at Creative Arts, Byron St, Napier CBD, at 6pm, free. Hawke's Bay Live Poets meet on the second Monday of every month at Community Arts Centre, Russell Street, Hastings, near the clock tower, at 7pm, $5 at door. Everyone is welcome to come along and be a part of our wonderful, vibrant, open-mic poetry groups, where you can share your own work and hear poems by other members of Hawke's Bay's community. If you want to just listen, that is fine. We are tremendously supportive of all writers. The material is wide-ranging – personal, historical, topical. No two meetings are ever the same.

What sort of feedback do you receive about the radio show?

People obviously enjoy it because it rates quite highly. The variety of personalities and poems that are shared appeal to people.


Do you read your own poems out on air?

Sometimes - usually if somebody is interviewing me, which has happened a couple of times. The focus is normally on the guest.