Slamming limits of spoken poetry

16:00, Feb 20 2014
NO LIMITS: Jess Bates will be breaking the rules of a traditional poetry slam at the Rising Voices Summer Series.

They've already talked the talk and now they're back to break all the rules.

Twelve of the best poets to graduate from the Rising Voices Poetry Slam will each present a 15-minute showcase of their work at the Herald Theatre tonight and tomorrow without any of the constraints of traditional slam poetry.

Slam poets usually have just three minutes to perform their material from memory to an audience using their own style of delivery.

Instead of just a poet and the stage, this weekend there will also be props, music and dance.

Mt Albert performer Jess Bates is among the Rising Voices alumna taking to the stage.

The 28-year-old was part of the programme when it introduced a new audience to the world of spoken-word poetry in 2011.


Its founders, Grace Taylor and Jai MacDonald, wanted to give young poets the chance to develop their writing and performance with six weeks of intensive workshops and a final competition.

"Before, there was this deficit in the scene with poetry really only being read by alcoholics and academics at the pub.

"Now, three years later, we've got this plethora of different voices in the scene, which is really wonderful."

Ms Bates returned to poetry last year after taking time off to finish her master's thesis.

Everyone will be bringing their A-game for this weekend's showcase, Ms Bates says.

"We've been given a clean slate to do whatever we want. It's kind of terrifying, but I'm excited by the opportunity to show what I can do."

"Even with spoken word exploding as a form, we still have quite a narrow view of what poetry is, but I think it can be bloody entertaining."

She will perform a collaborative work with 11 other poets at this year's Adelaide Fringe festival. She will then perform in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe festival before heading to clown school in Paris.

Ms Taylor is looking forward to the event and is "really excited to see how far they push themselves and what might emerge in the wake".

Rising Voices Summer Series is tonight and tomorrow from 7.30pm at the Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre.

Go to to book.

Central Leader