Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi - the Whakatāne Library and Exhibition Centre - is to host a 'poetry slam' later this month and local bards are urged to get along.

Poetry slams are events where original spoken word pieces are performed in front of a live audience, and they have been growing in popularity throughout New Zealand.

This is an opportunity to practise and polish performance ready for the regional heat, which will take place later this year.

Anneke Philps, public programmes officer at Te Kōputu, said slam poetry was much more than just reciting a poem.


"It's an art form that involves using the spoken word, expressed through a dramatic performance," she said. "Tone and pitch of voice, body language, and facial expression are all key elements of this performance with words."

Philps said topics can range from fun and frothy, to deep and meaningful.

"It can be about a life-changing event, something the poet feels passionate about or an expression of life in general."

The rules for this event are slightly more relaxed and the focus is on having fun with the spoken word. The audience plays an important role in supporting the poets, and the judges take into account the audience's show of appreciation in selecting the winners.

Performances must be no more than three minutes, and no props or music will be allowed.

For the first time, students from local schools have been invited to take part.

Those looking for some additional help and advice prior to the Poetry Slam are invited to a workshop hosted by Ronna Grace Funtelar, the inaugural winner and regional representative. The workshop will be held on Saturday, March 17 at the Whakatāne Library from 10.30am – 12.30pm.

Funtelar represented the Whakatāne District at the national event in Hamilton in 2017. Her enthusiasm for the spoken word is a great asset to all spoken-word performers and she's happy to share her knowledge and experience in this workshop. Attendees are asked to bring along a poem that they have written, to perform.


Both the workshop and Poetry Slam events are free to attend. While you can register your interest to perform, it is not essential. The doors will open at 5.15pm for a 5.30pm start on Wednesday, March 28. Children are welcome at the slam, but some content may require parental guidance.