Lead­ing slam poet per­forms at Massey

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

Just as stand-up com­edy found main­stream ac­cep­tance, it is now the turn of po­etry.

That’s ac­cord­ing to tour­ing UK slam poet Do­minic Berry, who iap­peared at Massey Univer­sity’s lunchtime Arts on Wed­nes­day pro­gramme last week.

From Manch­ester, and this year’s Glas­ton­bury Poet in Res­i­dence, Berry has been on a month-long tour of New Zealand per­form­ing in Auck­land with cham­pion UK slam poet Sara Hirsch , at Welling­ton’s Po­etry In Mo­tion and with the Fault­line group in Christchurch.

He stopped off in Palmer­ston North en-route to Hawke’s Bay be­fore fly­ing to Aus­tralia.

He found out while on tour he had been named the Sabo­teur Awards Best Spo­ken Artist 2017.

Po­etry was now get­ting plenty of cov­er­age in main­stream media, Berry said.

‘‘It’s a good time to be a poet in Eng­land - there’s now a lot of po­etry on TV.’’

Among the pro­grammes fea­tur­ing verse are Chan­nel 42s My Daugh­ter The Teenage Nud­ist and the BBC’s Rhyme Rocket.

A full time slam poet for the past 10 years, Berry said poets used to go cap in hand and beg for au­di­ences, but things had changed.

‘‘We used to be apolo­getic about it, but thanks to poets like Kate Tem­pest, Sara Hirsch and John Cooper Clarke, peo­ple, es­pe­cially young peo­ple, now ap­pre­ci­ate po­etry as a worth­while and ac­ces­si­ble art­form.’’

‘‘Young peo­ple, now ap­pre­ci­ate po­etry as a worth­while and ac­ces­si­ble art­form.’’ Do­minic Berry

The 37-year-old said po­etry had en­abled him to tour the world ‘‘be­ing se­ri­ous and silly’’, and cred­its his adop­tive Manch­ester’s grow­ing sta­tus as an arts hub for pro­vid­ing him with a per­for­mance plat­form.

‘‘When I was at school, po­etry was all peo­ple who died for­ever ago. I didn’t know it was some- thing you could make a liv­ing at.

‘‘In Manch­ester, I saw peo­ple get up and per­form and I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’.’’

His first pub­lished book in six years, No Tigers, was re­leased in Fe­bru­ary this year, but de­mand was such he’d run out of copies to sell here.

‘‘It’s trou­bling times for a lot of peo­ple in the world, and po­etry is where they can find com­fort and in­spi­ra­tion and it em­pow­ers peo­ple to find their voice.’’

Po­etry was ‘‘about get­ting the best words you can use, in the best pos­si­ble or­der, to make the best pos­si­ble con­nec­tion’’, he said.

PHOTO: DAVID UN­WIN/FAIRFAX NZ

On tour, UK slam poet Do­minic Berry is this year’s Glas­ton­bury Poet in Res­i­dence.

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