Saturday, November 25, 2023

Catalyst presents: Poets on the Block - live at Block Party 2023


A Catalyst showcase!

Featuring: Melanie McKerchar, Ray Shipley, Andy Coyle, Doc Drumheller and Ciaran Fox.

Saturday 25th November, 2pm
The Arts Centre Market


Friday, October 20, 2023

Catalyst: Celebrating 20 years of indie publishing.

The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press flag
Spewing literary lava since 2003.

The forthcoming NZ launch of Catalyst volume 20 marks twenty years of independent publishing for the literary arts journal based in Waitaha - Canterbury.

Founded in the extinct volcano of Lyttelton Harbour, Whakaraupo by editor Doc Drumheller with collaborator Ciaran Fox, the then new kid on the block of NZ literary journals started a poetry open mic and print journal in 2003. The project developed out of creative writing workshops facilitated by Doc Drumheller at underground arts venue, gallery and workspace, Creation. Participants dreamed up the name Catalyst as a signal that the new journal was aimed at shaking up the poetry publishing scene and opening space for young and emerging poets unable to access more established, literary or academic creative writing journals and publications and present them alongside renowned poets from Aotearoa and beyond. 

has always shown an interest in poetry fusions, experimental writing and forms, and particularly, other languages. The first ten years of Catalyst saw poetry presented in translation from half a dozen different languages and cultures. Since then, Doc has travelled to numerous countries presenting Catalyst and building an international friendship and reputation while bring home to Aotearoa feature sections of poetry from around the world. Volume 20 features poetry from China and Israel. 

The visual elements of Catalyst have also reflected an interest in design and art from the fringe. With a strong focus on Aotearoa artists both locally based and international, the journal always features a strong visual aesthetic and has occasionally included pageworks of poetic/design fusion on the front and back covers as well as internally.

In keeping with this experimental aesthetic, Catalyst also began publishing recordings of spoken word in collaboration with composers, sound artists and songwriters, produced by Jody Lloyd aka Trillion. Three volumes of spoken word/sonic collabs were released on CD. 


The interest in spoken word and performance was baked into the DNA of Catalyst as the open mic grew up alongside the journal. The first poetry slams in Christchurch were organised by the Catalyst crew at the Wunderbar in Lyttelton, eventually morphing into a slam show known as Poetry Idol. With the advent of the NZ Poetry Slam national competition, Catalyst continues to host the Ōtautahi Poetry Slam. Not content with introducing Christchurch to the entertainment potential of slam, Catalyst developed a new show for the Christchurch Writers Festival based on a mash-up of slam, improv and reality TV, known as Survivor: Poetry. 'Survivor' was staged in three successive WORD Christchurch festivals. Rumour has it, it may be down, but not out.

The first ten years saw Catalyst published under the imprint of Neoismist Press. With volume 10, Neoismist was retired and The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press was born. The Press has its own flag and continues to establish a sovereign nation for poets and poetry. In 2014, it launched the first volume of an emerging poets series called Republic of Poets. The format presents longer selections from three feature poets. Volume 2 is a twinkle in the eye.

Scroll forward and Catalyst volume 20: Oma, oma, oma! was officially welcomed in the Mediterranean at the World Congress of Poets 2023. Doc Drumheller is now a member of the executive board of WCP and founding editor of official WCP international journal Fuego.

Catalyst literary arts journal volume 20 cover art by Claude Jones.

 Catalyst remains a proudly print-based journal and continues to showcase local and international writers to a global audience. The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press continues to publish chapbooks (Catalyst Christmas Cracker) and in its own 10th anniversary, also released the first collection by co-founder Ciaran Fox titled They Crackle in the Rain which was shortlisted as an unpublished manuscript for the inaugural John O'Connor First Book Award in 2022.

They Crackle in the Rain. Poetry by Ciaran Fox, launching 25th October


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Dead Bird Books takes to the road in 2023


Having already released a swag of exciting new voices this year, Dead Bird Books are set to launch the new collection by founder, best-selling author and legendary performance poet Dominic Hoey in collaboration with designer Trudi Hewitt. What better way to celebrate than a road trip around the motu, bringing the new books to the people.

Accompanied by poets published by DBB in 2023, Isla Huia and Liam Jacobson, Dominic Hoey will be releasing his latest collection The Dead Are Always Laughing At Us in November 2023. Writes Hoey:

“Accessibility has shaped the way I write and perform. I’ve always resisted the idea that poetry should be a puzzle you need a 50k education to unlock. Early on I knew I wanted this to be the kind of poetry collection anyone could pick up and be drawn into immediately. With that in mind it was really important to add a visual element to the text.” 


The poems were mostly written during lock-down as a way to try and stay sane while the world lost its collective mind. The collaboration with a graphic designer means the book has a strongly visual, as well as verbal, aspect. Hewitt writes:

“I saw this project as an opportunity to experiment. To rethink the rules we set for consistency and to challenge typesetting conventions of literature and poetry. Ultimately I wanted to give each of Dominic’s poems their own sense of identity by playing with pace, space, size and tension. An awesome collaboration with a very talented friend.” 

The book is available for pre-sale now on Dead Bird Books website. Kicking off at the end of November, Dominic is bringing a road show of exciting talent to select venues in both North and South Islands. 

Isla Huia (Te Āti Haunui a-Pāpārangi, Uenuku) is a te reo Māori teacher, writer and musician. Her first book,Talia, was released by Dead Bird in May 2023.

Liam Jacobson (Kāi Tahu) is a poet, artist, maker (etc.) from Manurewa, South Auckland. They've shared poems in alleys, pubs and galleries across Aotearoa and overseas. Liam's debut poetry collection, Neither, was published by Dead Bird Books in September 2023.

Dominic Hoey is a poet and bestselling author.  Through his 'Learn To Write Good' writing course, Dominic has taught thousands of students how to think dyslexic. He also works with rangatahi with the Atawhai program, helping them with their mental health and self-esteem.

Tickets can be purchased via the Dead Bird Books website:

If you’d like a copy of the book or want to interview any of the poets email-

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Announcement: Book Launch coming soon - They Crackle in the Rain by Ciaran Fox


It's a bit of an understatement to say we're excited about this landmark moment in the story of our wee press. Co-founder and long-time host of Catalyst's open mic, Ciaran Fox is releasing his first collection of poetry - They Crackle in the Rain.

Shortlisted last year for the inaugural John O'Connor First Book of Poetry Award, the collection attracted judge Elizabeth Smither's eye and ear:

'They Crackle in the Rain reminded me of so many loved poets and poetry schools: The Beats, Black Mountain, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Éluard, Apollinaire: poets who were risk-takers, extravagant in images and emotion, to whom the flow of a poem was important, celebratory.' 

- Elizabeth Smither, from the judges report, John O‘Connor First Book Award 2022

A collection 20 years in the making – interrupted (and informed) by parenthood, earthquakes, and a day job in mental health promotion as well as holding space for young and emerging poets.

They Crackle in the Rain represents a two decades-long time-lapse through a life both imagined and real in which no experience is left untouched by dream and longing, hope and regret. Misremembered sun-painted afternoons and rain-swept city streets are the background for rivers swallowing hearts, apocryphal internal affairs and a parent lost in the woods of dementia. Death is an ache in the bones and an echo of dance steps while love wins chaotic, temporary victories...

'These are big question poems: whether to drift or commit, solitude versus company, whether to be serious about a talent. Something is always interrupting a conclusion, leading onto the next poem.' Performed or on the page, this is a fine collection.

 - Elizabeth Smither

They Crackle in the Rain will be launched at Christchurch book-lovers haven, Scorpio Books on Wednesday 25th October. Details coming soon.