Rotorua's Mad Poets are joined by members of Taupo's Live Poets tonight celebrating National Poetry Day with Rhythm and Rhymes.

Tonight is a showcase of poetry and performance held at the museum, part of a four-day poetry festival that started on Wednesday and continues until Sunday with a series of free events.

Organiser Julia Charity wants anyone with even the remotest interest in things poetic, to turn up and enjoy.

"It's a celebration of all things poetry - fun, drama, romance and intrigue."


She wants to see "new poets, old hands who've got a sheaf of verse in their wardrobes, and especially those who have thought they'd like poetry but never wanted to admit it. Be prepared to be surprised and inspired".

Up to 60 poets are expected to attend the festival.

"We've deliberately developed a number of events designed to appeal to different people. The workshops are for poets who want to improve their understanding and techniques. The Rhythm and Rhyme has wide appeal to those who love music and enjoy literary composition. Sunday afternoon's event has quite a lot of humour, and we are expecting children to perform, so good for families and those who don't, for whatever reason, like going out at night," she said.

"A poetry festival like this is a celebration of words. As poets we are ordinary people with ordinary lives and a lot of our work is very accessible - making fun out of situations we find ourselves in, or a thought-provoking comment on current affairs. It's poetry for the people."

She said poetry was personally enjoyable because it enabled a space for her to be an "unplugged' version of herself.

"In the moments that I am performing I take my heart right out of my chest and hold it up for everyone to see. It takes courage to do that but I want to inspire others to be brave too. In poetry, I have found a form that can support the weight of all I want to express. I can distill my feelings down into their purist form - it's the concentrated form of Julia Charity.

"This particular festival is special to me because it is like my 'swan-song' - my farewell and thank you to the Rotorua community. I have lived here for 20 years but soon I am moving to Dunedin."

The Mad Poets have been together for 22 years, have held well over 1000 meetings and have produced 10 anthologies of local verse, the most recent being published in 2015.

Long time treasurer of the Mad Poets, Jane Fear, sees real benefit in centering this festival around National Poetry Day.

"Poetry day is time to put the flags out, for celebration and for reflection on how far we've come as a group of people who love poetry," she said.

And if asked to characterise her art, she said, "Poetry can be moving, invigorating, healing, hilarious and beautiful."

WHAT: Rhythm and Rhymes
WHEN: Tonight 7.30pm - 9.30pm
WHERE: Rotorua Museum
WHAT: Poetry Recital
WHEN: Sunday 2.30pm - 4pm
WHERE: The Arts Village, Wholman Room