Friday, December 10, 2010

And yet more poetry gigs... MER MADE

As if Gap Filler and the huge Xmas Catalyst party wasn't enough to slake your thirst for spoken word in performance, there's another poetry/music gig coming up next week... this time the sisters are doing it for themselves...


Mer Made

(because the earth is 80% water)

oceans, islands & merfolk

spin words & play music


Thu 16 Dec from 8pm

Beat St Cafe, cnr Barbadoes & Armagh Sts

The Cracks in Everything lap songs by Nikki BERRY onto the shores of poems by Tusiata AVIA Jania GALLETLY Helen LOWE Danielle O'HALLORAN

which, of course, leads to a whirlpool of

Tamara SMITH & Sum SURAWEERA ---

the Flutation and Percussion from Mundi, ripplin ,over^under_through~ lyrics by Marissa JOHNPILLAI --- the Buoy from Elsewhere


Just five bucks. Be there or be washed up

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Postscript - Survivor: Poetry - helping the real survivors

A big thank you to our wonderful audience at the Grand Final of Survivor: Poetry 2010 for helping us raise $250 for the Canterbury Earthquake recovery effort. We'll be placing this donation with the Kiwibank/Red Cross Relief Fund.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poetry Survived!

Survivors Ready!

Well the dust has settled over the stage at Al's Bar and the castaways have drifted back towards their respective homes. The world's first Survivor: Poetry was dropped on an only mildly prepared audience on November 3rd. The result was hilarity, drama, Leonard Cohen tributes, earthquake metaphors and believe it or not - poetry.

Amongst the fiendish challenges and heart-breaking Tribal Councils the poets managed to create some genuinely clever, funny and moving moments as one by one, they were eliminated or voted off by the tribe of castaways. There were team challenges and spontaneous haiku tie-breakers along with cameos from our wonderful judges and Ciaran's ham performance as the cruel MC himself.

Alas it came down to two as the cadre of previously eliminated castaways returned to pick the overall winner and inaugural Survivor: Poetry. In a satisfyingly dramatic and apt final act, the jury of eleven peers voted 6-5 for the eventual winner Sean Joyce. The runner-up was Micah Timona Ferris and the two faced the agonisingly slow reveal of the voting result (thanks, Ciaran) standing hand in hand.

Outstanding audience members had their reward and it was an exhausted but elated group of poets that left (or stayed at the bar) later that night, blessed by the spirit of Leonard Cohen I'm sure...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Date: Friday 15th October, 7 - 8.30 pm

Borders Bookshop Rotherham St.Riccarton.
Poets of all ages and stages welcome.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Next Catalyst Open Mic & TRUE STORIES Tour finale

True Stories tour finale
Sunday 3rd October 8pm koha entry
El Santo Porteno - Lyttelton

(cnr Norwich Quay and Oxford St - on the waterfront - see a review of the bar here)
featuring poetry, stories, music, laughter and possibly tears from:
Ben Brown
Andy Coyle
Helen Back
Kate Anastasiou (music) + Hannah Harding & Simon Gregory (music)


Catalyst Poetry Open Mic
Wednesday 6th October 8pm
Al's Bar 31 Dundas St ChCh.
Koha welcome.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Lyttelton true stories road trip.

Four well known entertainers from Lyttelton are hitting the road in a blue
bus this September to perform songs, poems and stories around the country.

  • Sat 18th sept Kaikoura The Strawberry Tree
  • Sun 19th sept wellington The Garden Club Terrace Bar, dixon St
  • Thurs 23rd sept Oamaru - The Penguin Club with reggae band Hikoikoi
  • Fri 24th sept Dunedin - Tangente Cafe Supper club
  • sat 25th sept Oamaru - The Grainstore with local poets
  • Sun 3rd 0ct Lyttelton El Santos at the old British Hotel

most shows $5 and 9pm start

Ben Brown is a multi published Lyttelton poet well known for his gripping
and gruelling spoken word performances. A poet of the old school he has
the capacity to grip the audience member by the throat and drag them
through a fascinating world full of vivid characters, black humour and
great damn lines.

Helenback is the original housewife from hell. She performs poetry so
unflinchingly real you will fall in love with her before the first pause,
just don’t invite her home to do the housework, or you might find a pitch
fork where it hurts.

Andy Coyle is a poet and storyteller with an eye for detail, and an ear
for regret. His deep patient delivery will inspire your imagination and
stir the muddy river bed of your subconscious.

Kate Anastasiou is a striking singer/songwriter who performs a compelling
blend of well written songs, improvisation, loops and story-telling, all
of this peppered with an instinctive feel for jazz and a love of being in
the presence of poetry and song.

Next Catalyst Open Mic

Kia ora koutou,

We'll be back to business as usual, getting down n' dirty with the poets at the next Catalyst Open Mic:

Wednesday 6th October, 8pm
Al's Bar, 31 Dundas St, Christchurch

Bring yer own Poetry! We'll provide the ambience...

Hopefully we'll have an announcement about rescheduling Survivor Poetry by then. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Iggy Defies the Earthquake!

Iggy McGovern, Irish poet and academic, will give an impromptu poetry reading tomorrow,

Wednesday 15th
at 6 pm, at Al's Bar, 31 Dundas Street.

Iggy is a regular visitor and is here at the invitation of the The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival.

Biographical notes:
Iggy McGovern, Irish poet and academic - he is Associate Professor of Physics at Trinity College. Well known for his witty, playful, but emotionally engaged poems. The recipient of both the McCrae and Hennessy Literary Awards, his first collection The King of Suburbia (2005), is already reprinted. Read the review in The Listener here.

Monday, September 06, 2010


The castaways have thrown their lot in to Poetry Island and been whittled down to 15. What an amazing night at AL's Bar last Wednesday. 23 people auditioned for the limited places and the right to call themselves Survivors! We followed the audition by an open mic in which many returned for some de ja vu action in what totalled around 30 performances for the night.

Our sincerest thanks to everyone who participated and made it such a fun and full-on night. Thanks to our judges for the evening - Marissa (Games Master) Johnpillai, Ben 'Poetry Idol' Brown and providing continuity with the final, Doc Drumheller. Thanks to Al and Ash at the bar and most of all thanks to our awesome audience for the night - no show without punch!

We're counting down to Friday 10th September 7.30pm where the surviving poets will be put to the ultimate test. Who will be found wanting? Who will SURVIVE?

Find out:


$16 ($14 Press subscribers)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Countdown to Survivor Poetry!

Catalyst is proud to bring you the next evolutionary phase in live poetry:

As part of The Press Christchurch Writers Festival 2010, Catalyst is unveiling their latest creation - the unholy spawn of reality TV, live performance and seat of the pants poetry to the death. Be part of history! Become the legend! When the page meets the stage can you survive the white heat of Survivor Poetry?

To audition for a place in the historical first 'season' of Survivor Poetry come to:

Catalyst @ AL's Bar - 31 Dundas St
Auditions will involve performing ONE of your original poems

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Musicians! Be Part of Catalyst number 9 (number 9... number 9)

Dear New Zealand Musician (and if you arent one, perhaps you know one or two and can forward this on to them. Heck, musicians send this to your friends too!)

Once again producer Jody Lloyd has undertaken the foreboding task to compile music for and produce a spoken word cd with Christchurch poetry outfit Catalyst.

This is the 3rd full length poetry-based CD produced by Catalyst . The first time we asked a few musicians for completed pieces of music. The second one was a collection of lyrical songs with spoken poetry added to them later. And for this one Jody has devised a more interesting plan, we want willing NZ musicians to send (by email) musical parts so i can use them like samples to compile new pieces of music. It'll be like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle with no prior picture.

If you have any unfinished recordings, why not send us parts of them?
If you are a drummer or percussionist, send some beats or rhythms.
guitarists - send some long chords, strum out a rhythm or play a solo.
bass player - make a bass line... but keep it simple.
piano player, violinist, trumpet, flute, recorder, clarinet, triangle, dulcimer, marimba, traditional Maori instruments... anything!
send us something you have played - even if it's just one note!

Even if you aren't a musician but you want to record sounds from your backyard or neighbourhood - birds, cicada's, bees, trains, creek, animals, feel free to record something and send it.

ATTENTION POETS: please don't send any recordings of your poetry, submissions are being invited by the editors directly.

here are a few guidelines for musicians:

1. We would prefer good recordings if possible, but if you have something great that is badly recorded, I may still be able to use it.
2. keep in mind I am making backing tracks for poetry - so keep it mellow. i.e. no death metal guitar solos.
3. format: wav, aiff or 320 mp3 files please. a 20 second wav file can be easily emailed.
4. submissions can be of any length, but preferably they should be 1 minute or less.
5. clearly name your file - with your name, and/or the name of the band you would like to be credited.
6. email files to

By submitting musical sounds for the Catalyst 9 CD (which is an accompaniment to a book), you understand that your sounds may be manipulated or time stretched to suit the producers direction and ear. You also understand that your sound(s) may not be used if deemed inappropriate. You will be credited for your contribution, but there will be no financial payment. And due to the awkward and complex nature of the project, no track titles will be submitted to APRA for royalties. So you understand that your involvement in this project is because it's gonna be awesome, and this has never been done before (in the world).

submissions close on Sept 1st 2010, so hurry!
please forward this to anyone you know who might like to be involved.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Survivor Poetry - Out Read. Out Write. Out Loud.

an exclusive new form of performance poetry competition - cut-throat reality style
Friday10th September 7.30pm
Boaters @ ChCh Town Hall
Christchurch Writers Festival 2010
Twenty castaways find themselves stranded on stage in front of a live audience with the hope of surviving three rounds of performance poetry. Each contestant will read one poem in the first round to determine the top ten and then the castaways will fight for immunity in a series of spontaneous writing challenges to compete for a one in five chance to become the world’s first Survivor Poet.
Survivor Poetry is entry by audition only. To be part of this event in the 2010 Christchurch Writers Festival you must attend and audition at:
Catalyst's Poetry Open Mic / Survivor Poetry Auditions
Al's Bar - 31 Dundas St
Wednesday 1st September 8pm. Entry is FREE.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

It's good to learn how to let go...

Do not adjust your television... Catalyst's blog is 'changing'... standby for instructions...

Next Catalyst Open Mic

Greetings and salutations for what will be the last post on the blog in this form...

Yes, that's right, we're... transforming. Don't touch that mouse... Catalyst is, well, about to catalyze.

In the meantime - here's the reminder about this months open mic:

Catalyst Open Mic Night
Wednesday 7th July 8pm
Al's Bar - 31 Dundas St

(behind Pak n' Save Moorhouse Ave)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Return of the Basement Poetic in Lyttelton

Basement Poetic and Socrates Session
7pm Sunday 27th June

$10 waged, $8 unwaged

The perfect end to the Festival of Lights, bring your mind, your wit and your taste for wine to the cozy environs of The Basement! Join local luminaries of the literary ether for a night of poetry and spoken word, and have a go yourself during the open mic. Then 'speak to the topic' in the Socrates Session - a chance to air your own well-shaped arguments on a topic given on the night.

A little birdie told me the topic is CREDIT for the Socrates Session - forewarned is forearmed!

But I could be wrong...

Funds raised go towards supporting Volcano Radio - Community radio as it should be - LOCAL & LIVE!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poetry keeps you cosy

Wow. Just a quick note about two things. First, Catalyst in May was an absolute rip-snorter. The kinda night that keeps Doc and I excited and determined to keep the open mic running for all you poets out there. Big crowd, totally up for it and some great poetry too. I've got some pics coming soon - let's keep the momentum going for June! And keep in mind the ideas about a collaboration with Poetic Justice in Wanaka (we love those guys!)

Second: We're not the only game in town... if you're desperate for your poetry fix check out:

Date: Friday 21 May, 7 - 8.30 pm

Place: Borders Bookshop Rotherham St.Riccarton.
Poets and listeners of all levels and ages welcome.

Bring a favourite poem...yours or another's. Come
and enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

Now that's cosy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Next Catalyst Poetry Open Mic...

Wednesday 5th May 8pm
Al's Bar - 31 Dundas St
BYO poetry

Also the same night - the final in this year's series of readings from the Canterbury Poets Collective over at Madras Cafe Bookshop. Featuring each of the winners from this series open mics there. Why not do both? Poetry is ruling the city this week!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sandra Sarala - live at Al's Bar

Sandra Sarala, singing poet
Wednesday 24 March, 8.30pm
Al's Bar

with special guest, Maryrose Crook.

Coming up this week at Al's Bar is a visiting performance poet, or rather a long lost daughter of Aotearoa returning. We thought y'all should get along and check it out. It's not every week we have a touring poet of this calibre so come along and support!

More about Sandra:

Sandra Sarala. a.k.a. Sandra Dempster, left New Zealand 13 years ago for Seoul and ended up in Berlin, where she's been active in the city's vibrant international community as a singing poet with a sideline in archaic East European folk song for the last eight years.

Her poetic performances are lyrical, satiric, philosophic and story-telling: after studying history from 1989-91 at the University of Canterbury and theatre and film at Victoria University of Wellington in 1996 she was a member of Red Mole's Roadwork's company, she has devised and performed her own work in Wellington, South Korea, Poland and Germany, trained in Commedia dell'Arte in Italy, and developed open vocal technique with teachers from Ukraine, Russia, and Poland.

She's survived several economic meltdowns in various countries, including South Korea, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany, and has fallen back on farming, journalism, life-modelling and teaching skills in most of those places.

After spending a winter writing, alone on an isolated central Bohemian farm with wood-stove heating/cooking and no running water, she fell in love with the luxuries of Berlin in spring 2002 and moved there, later becoming a co-founding member of the ensemble Polynushka, whose 2008 limited release CD of Russian village song won the German Record Critic's prize for folklore in August of the same year.

Having been born and raised and Dunedin then steadily making her way north through Christchurch, Wellington, Paekakariki, Asia and Europe, she's touring her way back south during March 2010 before returning to Berlin after Easter.

Photos become memories...

Continuing our slightly drunken stagger down memory lane...

Ben - April 2008

Stefan - April 2008

Helen L. - April 2008

Helen Y. - April 2008

Nostalgia is a gateway drug

I realised that the blog has been a bit static and also a bit too wordy of late. Here's a trip down memory lane with some of the poets at open mics in recent years...

Bella - December 2008

David - December 2008

Sean - December 2008

Ricky - December 2008

Poetic Justice, Southern Style

We have a sister poetry open mic in Wanaka!

'The Poetic Poetesses', Laura Williamson and Liz Breslin run an open mic called Poetic Justice Wanaka at Pa Runga Wine Bar, upstairs from Kai Whaka Pai (cnr Ardmore and Helwick Streets, Wanaka)

Check out their blog via the link above or here.

Catalyst's March night was honoured to have Liz in attendance and over several drinks we started to cook up schemes to bring our two esteemed literary salon evenings together. Let us know what you think of that idea and what we could do together!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Next Catalyst Open Mic

Kia ora!

Let Catalyst take you by the hand and lead you into Autumn

Wednesday 3rd March, 8pm
Al's Bar - 31 Dundas St
BYO poetry or whatever

it's hot today...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy New Year!

Greetings and salutations for another year! This is just a quick wee post to notify y'all about our first open mic of the year and the special one-off date for it...

Catalyst's Poetry Open Mic Nights are returning in February 2010.

The first one is a little unusual with a slightly different date - for this month only we'll be on the first Thursday of the month. That means the date and details are as follows:

First Catalyst Open Mic for 2010
Thursday 4th February, 8pm entry is free
Al's Bar, 31 Dundas St Christchurch (behind Pak n' Save Moorhouse)