Saturday, November 03, 2018

NZ Poetry Slam 2018 National Final - in Christchurch!

It's been years in the coming (is that even a thing?) but finally the NZ Poetry Slam is about to have it's grand final in the South Island. Last year's champion Daisy Speaks (Daisy Lavea-Timo) broke the stranglehold of the north on the title of NZ Slam Champion and now she's helping to bring the event itself to Ōtautahi/Christchurch.

Just another milestone in the remarkable renaissance of spoken word in Christchurch and nationally over the last 15 years.

Today's the day, if you're in Christchurch get along to see the best of this year's regional slam champs battle it out on the mic for the national title. Local two-time champion Ray Shipley will lead a three person challenge from Ōtautahi including Barrett Rob and Troy Buckland.

The venue is the pretty much brand new Haeata Community Campus auditorium in Aranui.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fifteen Years of Literary Lava

It's hard to believe that fifteen years have gone by since the first volume of Catalyst hit the 'shelves' of independent bookstores and libraries. Borne out of a series of writing workshops and the foundation of the Catalyst open mic, the literary arts journal of the same name was the brainchild of Doc Drumheller with ship's mate Ciaran Fox. With graphic design by Andy Gilmore, the first volume of Catalyst featured an all-NZ line up of writers, promising to showcase emerging, fringe and experimental writing and art.

So began a decade and a half of annual anthologies featuring young and/or emerging writers alongside established names both across NZ and also the world. Catalyst has published poetry in translation from a dozen languages and cultures as well as art work from around the globe. It has produced three albums of recorded spoken word and music collaborations. Still committed to supporting emerging talent, Catalyst has grown into an international journal with subscribers and contributors from almost every continent.

Despite international recognition, the journal is still scraping along on the smell of the proverbial oily rag, except even the whiff of oil has long since departed and we are publishing on the basis of a homeopathic pile of thread. In a time marked by the death of multiple, long-standing literary journals in New Zealand, the remarkable determination of one of the 'new kids on the block' is worth celebrating indeed. The number of established print literary journals in NZ is pretty much countable on one hand these days, so long may this oddity wander. If you still like reading poetry in print, may we humbly recommend hitting the 'Subscribe' tab above and joining the odyssey.

On Thursday 30th August, Catalyst launches its 15th volume at The Last Word on New Regent St in Christchurch, as part of WORD Christchurch literary festival. Join us to hear readings from several featured poets as well as stories from the founders and a sizeable whisky selection.

National Poetry Day (NZ) 2018

What a pleasure to be invited to read and host an open mic at Rangiora Library for New Zealand National Poetry Day. An enthusiastic group of readers came to share poetry and a cuppa. Some even brought costumes and props. We even gave a sneak preview of the new Catalyst volume 15 ahead of the official launch this week as part of WORD Christchurch in the New Regent Street Pop-Up Festival.  Many thanks to Waimakariri Libraries for the opportunity.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Christchurch Poetry Slam 2018 - The Rules

Here are the official rules of the Christchurch Poetry Slam as per the NZ Poetry Slam.
Sign-up is on the night only - places are limited to 12 participants so get there early.

Rules for NZ Poetry Slam

  • 3 minutes or less with no minimum time (10 second grace period before points 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 before 10 seconds.
  • Original (i.e. your own) 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 there will be three rounds for the Regionals and NZ Slam
As always, remember: the point is the poetry not the points!

Christchurch Poetry Slam in association with WORD Christchurch

For the first time ever, we're proud to present the Christchurch Poetry Slam as part of WORD Christchurch, the bi-annual literary festival for readers, writers and the bi-curious.

One of the biggest events on the Christchurch literary calendar, the Slam is going to be even bigger this year due to its inclusion in the festival programme and the interest generated from last year's champion Daisy Speaks going on to take out the NZ Poetry Slam in Hamilton.

There's even more on the line here as the NZ Poetry Slam will this year be hosted in Christchurch, so the 2018 ChCh champ gets to take home crowd advantage for the first time ever.

The Christchurch Poetry Slam 2018 will be hosted by the ever-irreverent Ciaran Fox, Slam Master (an honorary title if ever there was one) and featuring a special guest performance by NZ Slam impresario and one of the world's great performance poets Carrie Rudzinski

Pitting poet against poet, newcomer vs old-timer, it's poetry but not as you know it. (Unless you've been to one before...) The audience judges and the challenge to the poets is to connect, communicate and cut through.

Door sales only and this event will likely sell out so don't be late, either as audience or poet. Doors open and sign-up starts at 7pm. There is a limit of 12 slammers, first in, best dressed.

The official NZ Poetry Slam rules are here.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Raven Chronicles - Balancing Acts - a Sister Cities Programme with Seattle and Christchurch

Catalyst Open Mic feat. Raven Chronicles vol. 25 poetry reading
Wednesday 7th March, 7pm
Space Academy, 371 St Asaph St

Raven Chronicles is a journal of art, literature and spoken word, published in Seattle, USA. With a very similar focus to Catalyst, it seemed a natural pair to collaborate under the Sister Cities programme between Christchurch and Seattle.

A launch event was held last month in Seattle for volume 25 of Raven Chronicles 'Balancing Acts' - this follows the launch of Catalyst volume 13 'Instant Chemistry' in November last year, the first leg of the collaboration.

The next Catalyst Open Mic Night will feature a reading from the selection of Christchurch poets published in the Raven Chronicles Volume 25, 'Balancing Acts' feature. Come celebrate this unique cultural exchange that included a selection of Seattle poets and writers published in Catalyst Volume 13 'Instant Chemistry'.  With readings from their selection of work:  Frankie McMillan, Erik Kennedy, Heather McQuillan, Doc Drumheller, and Fiona Farrell.

Raven Chronicles Journal Vol. 25: writers and artists examine the theme “Balancing Acts,” how we live our life, fully, and maintain our relationship with the earth/planet and the diversity of life on it. Biodiversity is balance in the dance of nature. Edited by: Anna Bálint, Phoebe Bosché, Matt Briggs, Paul Hunter, Doug Johnson. The U.S. contributors in this Balancing Acts-themed Journal live in seventeen states—Washington, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey, , Virginia, Idaho, New York, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, Florida, Washington, D.C.; and 52% are from Washington State. Contributors, particularly visual artists, also hail from ten countries—U.S., Germany, Colombia, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Canada, Chile, Singapore. There are 58 illustrations/artworks in Vol. 25.

We are pleased to present the work of a selection of established and emerging writers from New Zealand as part of the Sister Cities Program, a collaboration between Seattle and Christchurch, New Zealand.

The editors of Raven Chronicles, A Journal of Art, Literature & The Spoken Word, are pleased to announce their nominations for the 2018 Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, the prize chosen by Pushcart Press that anthologizes the best of the small presses publishing this year. The editors of Raven Chronicles nominate the following writers for their work published in Vol. 24 and Vol. 25, in 2017.

1. Fiona Farrell, “Decline and Fall on Savage Street”— Novel Excerpt, pgs. 57-68. Novel excerpt from Decline and Fall on Savage Street, Penguin Random House, New Zealand, 2017.

2. Edward Harkness “Neighborhood Crows”— poem, pgs. 22-23.

3. Nic Low, “Ear to the Ground”— essay, pgs 77-90. “Ear to the Ground,” first published in longer form in Griffith Review 35: Surviving, January, 2012 (

For more information: Raven Chronicles

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Catalyst 2018 - the open mic returns plus special guest

Happy New Year and all that. We really mean it, though.

(Isn't it funny how a lack of exclamation marks these days seems to seriously denote a cynical/sarcastic tone. So now I feel I have to use 'em just to be normal...)

Happy New Year! We really mean it!

OK, enough of the formalities - the Catalyst Open Mic is kicking off for the year tonight with a special guest from the UK, by way of Wellington and currently hoboing around the country sharing his spoken word. Let us introduce RikTheMost. He's doing shows and workshops in Christchurch before heading off around the motu (island) this February. Check out the flyer below and his website for more stories...

Catalyst Poetry Open Mic
Wednesday 7th Feb, 7pm
Space Academy, 371 St Asaph St
koha for our guest please