Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's in our DNA...10 x (10 + -10) = 0 ... a ten year, ten book project completed

10 x (10 + -10) = 0 Book Launch

Thursday October 30th, 6pm
Scorpio Books 113 Riccarton Rd (03) 379 2882
live readings from the author plus original and new books available.

"Mission accomplished" famously announced a banner behind George W. Bush in 2003 on the deck of a US aircraft carrier just off the California coast, safely thousands of miles away from the (puzzlingly ongoing) hostilities in Iraq.

The 'second gulf war' is just one of the historical events captured in a series of books known as 10 x (10 + -10) = 0 by Doc Drumheller.  Devised as a kind of twisting DNA double helix of line restrictions and rhyme schemes spread over 10 books, each with a palindrome at its heart (where the strands intersect) the series captures many events and significant developments like a time capsule in a mesmerising, almost psychedelic form.  The central books (The Grey Area and The Missing Links) are themselves entirely made up of palindromic verse.

Drumheller begun this self-set mission of (more than) a decade in 2002, the year the human genome was finally mapped, no small inspiration for the structure of 10 x (10 + -10) = 0.  The first book of the sequence is entitled Blueprint for Ressurection or Destruction and the concluding chapter written some 10 years later is The Architecture of Apocalypse.

The first two chapbooks were accompanied by acclaimed multimedia performances bearing their name (Blueprint... and Fears and Fetishes) which made appearances in the Dunedin and Wellington Fringe Festivals and the NZ International Poetry Festival (Wellington).  They featured a unique blend of live and video-captured poetry, puppetry, perversion, curated soundscapes, pre-recorded and live video, found footage and costume.

The original chapbooks of the sequence are now rare collectors items with few of the original, limited print runs left.  They came accompanied with instructions on how to cut up and paste them together into long double helixes of poetry so there is no way of knowing how many books still exist in their original form.

Now the sequence is complete it is finally available in one collection: 10 x (10 + -10) = 0.  An impressive tome collecting all 200 poems from the sequence presented in their original shape and colours (each chapbook was entirely monochromatic, coloured according to the CYMK process with the central books presented in grey) plus extensive notes and introduction from the author, an index of phonemes used in the composition of the poems plus a never before published early poem, 'Inside Out', a precursor to the curious obsession of the series.

10 x (10 + -10) = 0 is the most ambitious publication to date from Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press.  A piece of New Zealand literary history, an anomaly, a time machine, a mathematical function, a shamanistic science experiment from a 'neo-music/poetry visionary'.

Republic of Oma Rāpeti media release:

10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0 is a ten year project by Doc Drumheller. There are ten books (1 per year) published in this series. There are twenty poems in each book, inspired by the most significant events of that particular year.

“In 1999, a group of my friends leased a 1920’s maternity hospital where we experimented with music, film, theatre, performance art, photography, painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, sound engineering, gardening, spirituality, and rock ‘n’ roll,” Doc says.

“Our intentions were to complete a recording with the band The Puffins. We invested all of our money into buying recording equipment, fancy microphones, mixing desks, speakers, and we set up our own recording studio. It was during this time that I devised a formula for a poetic structure, that would later become: 10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0,” says Drumheller

The poems were written using restriction writing techniques e.g.: restricted by the amount of syllables or words per line, parts 10 & ˉ10 in each book are palindromes, which means they read the same backwards as forwards.

“I was inspired by the work of 20th century art movements like Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, the Beat Generation, Absurdist Theatre, and the Oulipo,” says Drumheller.

10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0 began after the mapping of the human genome in 2002.  This year was also significant as 20/02/2002 was the first perfect palindrome date in one thousand years.

“My first vocational aspiration was to become a medical researcher and my nights reading Gray’s Anatomy are reflected in the early work. I performed surgery on my ventriloquist dummy and pulled strings of sausages and poems from his insides at festivals around New Zealand,” Doc says.

Each book is designed to be cut up and reassembled and the poetry creates shapes inspired by DNA strands and explores phonemes like a mathematic symphony. 

“My aim was to create a time capsule of a decade and if there is any conclusion I could draw from this experience is that humanity has become too passive, the opposite side of this equation, is to become more active and engaged in the world around us,” suggests Drumheller.

This project compiles all ten books, presenting all 200 poems into one collection for the first time. A project of experimental and innovative poetry on this scale has never been produced in New Zealand.

“By completing this project, which I set as an almost impossible task, I have proven to myself that everything is possible, and hope that it may inspire other artists to challenge themselves to go for the limit,” says Doc.

Doc will perform poems from the project at the launch, and individual chapbooks from the series will be available for sale, as well as the 232 page epic:10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0, collecting all ten books.

Hot Spot Poetry Tour - launching A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children

Paula Green, writer and editor of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children is heading off round the country to promote the book and bringing along a rag-tag bunch of poets with her.

For more information on the tour, dates and poets as well as Paula herself - check out her blog:

Poetry Box

Our very own Doc Drumheller is one of the featured poets along with many other luminaries of NZ poetry.  Here's a list of public events and venues on the tour:

Mysterious Writing on Water to Emerge in Christchurch

Calling all Christchurch Poets - be part of live poetry readings in a poetry installation by Poetica - the Christchurch Urban Poetry Project.

Poetica's ‘Emerge’ installation involves a line of poetry by W.B. Yeats floating in the Avon River.  Accompanying the installation are readings and artist-led, 'liquid poetry' sessions where people can write poetic messages with water.

'Emerge' is part of FESTA - The NZ Festival of Transitional Architecture - one of the most exciting, diverse and internationally significant events in the country now into its third year.

When: The opening on 24/10 from 17:00 till 18:00
25/10 from 16:30 till 17:30 ( workshop writing with water from 16:00- 17:00)
26/10 from 16:30 till17:30 ( workshop writing with water from 16:00- 17:00)
27/10 is also an option. 16:00 till 17:00

Where:The water wheel, by Mills Island  Below Hereford Street bridge in the Avon River Oxford Terrace. POETICA
Anyone is welcome - just get in touch as soon as possible via private message to Poetica on Facebook or email kirstyhdunn@gmail.com with your details and your preferred slot for reading (see above).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Canterbury Poets Collective readings Spring 2014

It's an epic week of poetry this week - Poetry Slam Tuesday night, Canterbury Poets Collective on Wednesday and Lady Poets on Thursday.  Next week we're back at the Twisted Hop in Woolston for another Catalyst open mic.  Check out the poster for the CPC Spring readings this year in a new venue.  Featuring many excellent poets (including our very own Doc Drumheller and Ciaran Fox) and of course the CPC open mic series.  Get along!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Christchurch Poetry Slam - Da Rulz

Kia ora.  We have had to postpone the big night for one week but in the meantime here is a handy run-down of the official NZ Poetry Slam rules which we'll be using at the Christchurch heat.

See you next week!

Christchurch Poetry Slam
Tuesday 30th Sept, 7pm
Darkroom 336 St Asaph St
Free entry!  Koha welcome for the ChCh winners to travel to Wellington.


Rules for NZ National Poetry Slam 

  • 3 minutes or less with no minimum time (10 second grace period before point’s deduction) 
  • Time starts when poet speaks, however while poets can have time to settle and adjust microphone etc, this time is not limitless; ideally a poet should start after 10 seconds. 
  • Original poems only 
  • No props no music no costumes (i.e. clothing related to the content of your poem) 
  • In the case of a tie a slam off will be required 
  • Random draw, for performance order. 

Judging and scoring 

  • 5 Audience Judges (chosen by MC and/or organiser) display score cards 0-10 (Decimal points allowed) 
  • Top and bottom scores drop off and total of remaining 3 scores is the total 
  • If Poet goes over grace period MC or Timekeeper to ask scorer to mark down points after the judges score… (Half a point penalty for every 10 seconds over time) 
  •  After 4 minutes the MC can shut down the poet 
  • 'Sacrificial Poet' (non-competing) to start the night, to help calibrate scores. 
  • Slams are equally about writing, performance and audience response. 
  • Slammers should have at least 3 poems, as for the Regionals and NZ Slam there will be three rounds…

Thursday, August 28, 2014


SURVIVOR: POETRY is back!  We have our ten castaways, we have our appointment with destiny!

$12 / $10 entry
Ticket sales here

Don't miss the best mash up of live poetry, performance anxiety, and reality TV you'll ever see.

And for a wee taste of the auditions that happened a few weeks ago (along with the musings of your Catalyst Crew) check this out:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Words of War - music and poetry at the Court Theatre

We're proud to be a part of this event at the Court Theatre (and encouraged by their desire to be a part of the performance poetry movement in Christchurch).  Below is a letter from Philip Aldridge and Dan Pengelly of the Court Theatre explaining a little more about the event this week.

Tena Koutou,
We would like to invite you along to an intimate afternoon of poetry at The Court Theatre. This is the first Forge foray into poetry and we hope to make an annual event exploring words, voice and the world around us. Featuring poets from Christchurch’s professional poetry collectives Catalyst and Lady Poets as well as our very own Ross Gumbley and Philip Aldridge.
Words of War
Europe, Gallipoli, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Serbia and Iraq… Poetry inspired and impassioned by WAR.
On Sunday two spaces will hold words, voices and stories inspired and impassioned by War.
The afternoon starts at 4pm with music by Amy Grace. Two 40 minute sessions of poetry will take place in The Pub Charity Studio and The Chapman Tripp Stage. From raw and fresh verses of Tusiata Avia to the beautiful crafted words of Kipling, there will be something for everyone.
Sunday 3 of August
The Court Theatre: Pub Charity Studio & Chapman Trip Stage
Tickets $10 for all ages, available from The Court Theatre
Nine poets reciting poetry from World War 1 to Iraq
The bar will be open, includes 20 minute interval
This is a Forge at The Court event. Not sure what that means? The Forge is our boutique theatre brand that goes alongside The Court Theatre main season. Offering intimate and creative theatre experiences for Canterbury audiences. This is our playground for innovation and things that are a little bit different.
We would love to see you there.
Regards and aroha,
Philip Aldridge, Chief Executive of The Court Theatre &
Daniel Pengelly, Associate Director of The Court Theatre

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival 2014

 Wow! Has two years gone by already?  It's that time again, when the Writers Festival hits town and this time it's got a brand new look and is more ambitious than ever - 68 events over 5 days.  2014 also sees a much bigger spotlight on poetry and we are proud to be presenting not one but two shows this year.

Catalyst Road Show reprise: My Republic 
Saturday 30 August - 9pm - The Darkroom - Free entry!

Yep, we're bringing back the popular poetical, musical road trip especially for the WORD Christchurch 2014 festival. Featuring some of the stand-out performance poets from our 2013 slow tour of the city suburbs and one special guest, reunited with Doc Drumheller on guitar, the original seven Road Shows showcased some amazing performance poets in celebration of ten years of Catalyst journals and open mics.  The 2013 shows came with seven limited edition chapbooks (collector's items now!) and culminated with the launch of Catalyst volume 10.  Now this special one-off Road Show brings to festival audiences a taste of this multi-collaboration, song and poem experience and launches the 11th volume of Catalyst 'My Republic'.  Featured poets: Andy Coyle; Ben Brown; Ciaran Fox; Kimberley Holmes and special Auckland guest Grace Taylor of Rising Voices fame accompanied by Doc Drumheller on guitar and songs.

Survivor: Poetry 
Sunday 31 August - 6pm
Rydges Savoy West - $12/$10 entry

Yep that's right, it's the return of the infamous, cut-throat and downright unfair performance poetry competition. Stranded before a live audience, 10 poets have only their guts and wits to see them through a series of challenging rounds of poetical mayhem - only to have to run the gauntlet of Tribal Council. Who will outlast them all to become our third ever 'Survivor Poet'?

So we're looking for fearless (or foolhardy) poets to be our castaways - auditions will be held at our next open mic on the 5th August - 7pm at the Twisted Hop in Woolston. We'll put up a separate post about this to remind you. Come on, you know you want to!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Next Catalyst open mic

The open mic moves to the Twisted Hop in Woolston!  Come join us for some mighty fine craft ale and food - and of course, poetry!  First Tuesday of the month.

Catalyst Poetry Open Mic
Tuesday 1st July, 7.30pm
Twisted Hop, 616 Ferry Rd, Woolston
entry by koha.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Republic of Poets tour poster

Pioneers of a new Republic - Oma Rāpeti launches Republic of Poets series

The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press is proud to announce the first of a new series of poetry anthologies to complement the on-going publication of Catalyst. 

Inspired by the legendary Penguin Modern Poets series, the Republic of Poets will be a showcase of three emerging New Zealand poets, allowing a broader sample of poets' work to be presented beyond the limits of even a 'feature' slot in Catalyst.  

We've been working on this idea for a while and it's now time to let the ol' cat out of the bag.  Volume One of Republic of Poets is subtitled: 'Pioneers' and features three poets who have been something of latter day pioneers in the renaissance of performance poetry in Christchurch (and is a nicer way of referring to our inaugural feature poets than 'guinea pigs').  Republic of Poets Volume One 'Pioneers' features the work of Ben Brown, Andy Coyle and Doc Drumheller.

It's been a labour of love for Oma Rāpeti and we're pretty proud of the resulting book which has been partly funded by Creative Communites Christchurch City.

The book is being launched with a short tour of the upper South Island by the impressive live show of the three poets.  Below is the media release - feel free to spread the word and if you can't make it to see the show, write to us to buy your very own copy.

The Republic is Coming - Long Live the Republic!

Christchurch poets Ben Brown, Andy Coyle, and Doc Drumheller will raise the flag of a new republic with poems and songs when they launch a combined collection of poetry and other writings in June.

The three poets are part of the crew that performs regularly at the legendary Catalyst Open Mic, and Catalyst Road Shows and they will be performing their poems and music at the following events:

Wunderbar Lyttelton, Thursday 12th June

Dharma Bums Club Blenheim, Saturday 14th June

Mussel Inn Golden Bay, Sunday 15th June 

The Free House Nelson, Monday 16thJune

The Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press publishes Catalyst literary arts journal, founded by Drumheller in 2003. The press will publish the new anthology from the three poets as part of their new ‘Republic’ venture.  The on-going project will produce a high quality literary anthology of three New Zealand poets each year. Republic of Poets Volume 1: Pioneers, is funded by Christchurch City Creative Communities.

“The project is inspired by the Penguin Poets series of the past”, explains Doc Drumheller.

“The launch in Golden Bay and Nelson of this initial collection will be the Republic’s first venture and will be complete with a flag, constitution, and national anthem! You won’t want to miss it!

“We have a continuing interest in experimental and non-traditional forms of poetry and writing often neglected in literary journals,” says Doc.

“As such you will find song lyrics, script/screenplay excerpts, spoken word, rap and performance texts, visual poetry, graffiti, artwork and design included in the pages of Catalyst and in our live performances.”

Each poet brings to the performance their own particular take on the literary world. All three are established writers and performers in their own right who have earned various awards and have chalked up many accomplishments throughout their careers.

Such has been their skill and enthusiasm for their writing and poetry craft, that they have earned themselves some status as pioneers in the field of performance poetry in Christchurch and have established themselves on a national and international level.

Ben Brown (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Mahuta) was born in Motueka in 1962. He is a writer, poet and performer. Since 1992 he has published numerous children's books, short stories for children and adults, poetry and non-fiction, and is an occasional contributor to Mana Magazine who have also featured him. He tours and performs regularly around the country. In 2006 he won best picture book with the artist/illustrator Helen Taylor in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. In 2011 he was the Maori Writer in Residence at the Michael King Writer's Centre. He was also writer in residence at Hagley College, Christchurch, in 2009. He has read and performed at the Auckland Writers Festival (2010), the APRA Music Awards (2011) the Christchurch Writers Festival (2006, 2012), the Kaikoura Roots Festival (2012) the Christchurch Arts Festival (2009, 2013) and the Nelson Arts Festival (2011). He lives and works in Lyttelton.

‘Ben Brown is a distinctive original voice’ – Apirana Taylor. See also: http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/brownben/html

Andy Coyle is a performance poet based in Canterbury, NZ. In 2011 he represented Christchurch in the NZ Poetry Slam finals. He is a regular contributor to the Catalyst Open Mic Night, The Catalyst Literary Journal, and the Catalyst Road Show. Career highlights include, a ten date tour of New Zealand in 2010; writing and performing an epic poem set in Christchurch accompanied by a 7 piece progressive jazz/rock ensemble for the Dunedin Fringe and the Wellington Jazz Festival in 2006; a short story filmed; a play performed; a poem painted as a mural in the seaside suburb of New Brighton and festival appearances in the Wanaka ‘Outspoken Festival’, the Lyttelton Summer Festival, and the Newtown Street Festival.  

Doc Drumheller: was born in Charleston, South Carolina and has lived in New Zealand for more than half his life. He has worked in award winning groups for theatre and music and has published ten collections of poetry. In 2007 he participated in the 12th Havana International Poetry Festival, where he was asked to represent New Zealand on the International Board of Poets in Defence of Humanity.

In 2009 he participated in the 5th World Haiku Association Conference and The Druskininkai Poetic Fall in Lithuania, where he became the New Zealand Ambassador to the Republic of Užupis. In 2010 he participated in the World Haiku Festival Pécs, Hungary and won first prize in the ginko haiku writing competition.

In 2011 he travelled to India where his book ‘In Transit’, 100 haiku in 11 languages, was published. He performed poetry and music at the Cyberwit office in Allahabad and at the Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi and then went on to represent New Zealand at the 2nd Tokyo International Poetry Festival and 6th World Haiku Association Conference in Japan.

In 2013 he performed in Sofia, Bulgaria with the Bulgarian Rock Band, La Text launching a feature of Bulgarian poets in Catalyst Volume 10 and Contemporary New Zealand Poets published in Sofia’s Literary Newspaper.  He represented New Zealand at the 7th International Haiku Festival Constanta, 2013 Romania. He won 1st prize for the festival haiku writing contest, 2nd prize in the festival anthology contest and was awarded a diploma for excellence in haiku, from the Constanta Haiku Society.

He lives in Oxford, where he edits and publishes the literary journal Catalyst and teaches creative writing at the School for Young Writers.