The power of words

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

NOLA Naera will have just one tool at her dis­posal when she takes to the stage at the Auck­land Town Hall to­mor­row – her voice.

The 18-year-old is among 12 emerg­ing po­ets bring­ing their words to life with no mu­sic and no props to bat­tle it out for the ti­tle of cham­pion in the Ris­ing Voices Youth Po­etry Slam.

The cen­tral Auck­land res­i­dent has been writ­ing since she was 10 but has been tak­ing to the stage to per­form her work only for the past year.

Slam po­ets per­form from mem­ory us­ing their own style of de­liv­ery to keep the au­di­ence hooked on their ev­ery word.

‘‘It’s a great chance to ex­press your­self,’’ Ms Naera says.

‘‘You have com­plete free­dom of ex­pres­sion to talk about things that mat­ter to you. I can wake up at 3am and start writ­ing.’’

Au­di­ence re­ac­tion is ev­ery bit as im­por­tant to the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence as the reading it­self.

‘‘In my ex­pe­ri­ence, au­di­ences have been great but I hear they can also be pretty tough.’’

The slam con­sists of three rounds, for which each artist must pre­pare three orig­i­nal po­ems, each last­ing no longer than three min­utes.

A panel of judges will de­cide which five per­form­ers reach round two be­fore knock­ing out a fur­ther three - leav­ing just two to bat­tle it out in the fi­nal round.

The au­di­ence then takes con­trol and de­cides who walks away as cham­pion.

Ten po­ets from Auck­land and two from Christchurch, aged from 16 to 24, will be com­pet­ing.

Ris­ing Voices is the first po­etry slam pro­vid­ing young po­ets the chance to de­velop their writ­ing and per­for­mance through six weeks of in­ten­sive work­shops.

The com­pe­ti­tion first hit the stage in 2011 and was born out of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween pre­vi­ous Auck­land po­etry slam win­ners Grace Tay­lor and Jai MacDon­ald.

Both were teach­ing emerg­ing spo­ken word po­ets and saw a need for a po­etry slam cater­ing for young po­ets out- side the tra­di­tional en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘We wanted to cre­ate some­thing that would fo­cus not just on the com­pe­ti­tion, but to cre­ate a pos­i­tive space prior to the slam for the com­pet­ing po­ets to learn and

pub de­velop,’’ Ms Tay­lor says.

De­spite the com­pet­i­tive edge com­mu­nity is what it’s all about, Ms Naera says.

‘‘There’s no ri­valry be­tween us, po­etry slam artists are all re­ally sup­port­ive of each other.’’


Po­etry slam: Nola Naera is com­pet­ing in the Ris­ing Voices Youth Po­etry Slam at the Auck­land Town Hall.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to watch last year’s Ris­ing Voices win­ner Brian Gashema per­form.

The com­pe­ti­tion will be at the Auck­land Town Hall to­mor­row from 7pm. Go to buyt­ick­ or phone 0800 BUYT­ICK­ETS for tick­ets.

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