Poet heads back to his roots for shows

CHARLIE MITCHELL
Last updated 05:00 11/06/2014
Sam Hunt
SIMON DARBY

WAY WITH WORDS: Poet Sam Hunt in Wanaka for the Outspoken Festival in January. He will be performing with Riki Gooch at San Fran this week. ‘‘All poems are probably about pretty much the same things. It’s the way it’s told, the way it is, that makes it unique.’’

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These days Sam Hunt likes to stay close to his home on the Kaipara Harbour, but he is about to venture back to his old haunts in Wellington for a couple of shows later this week.

"For me, the most important act in terms of my work is doing the shows, telling the poems," he says. "But I get very sick of the travel. I used to love travelling, but I think I did too much of it. Now I feel like staying at home and getting the fire going."

Hunt turns 68 on July 4 - "They have a holiday for my birthday in the States," he chuckles - but there is still a bit of vagabond in him.

"When you're touring it's not just stop, start, stop, start - there's pretty much always something happening. Which I enjoy. But it's sometimes cruisy, sometimes crazy, and sometimes a good mixture of both."

Hunt's performance style, which bashes down the barrier between poetry and music, will be in full force for his latest group of shows. 

The shows - titled True Troubadours - feature Hunt and drummer Riki Gooch, of Trinity Roots repute, who has composed a new solo piece.

Hunt considers himself less a poet and more a conduit for poems, which are imbued with life when he exhales them onstage.

"The word made flesh, which is the opening line of . . . um . . . oh, the New Testament, that's right - that's what it's about.

"Poems aren't about things. All poems are probably about pretty much the same things. It's the way it's told, the way it is, that makes it unique."

After all these years as a poet - almost 50, by his reckoning - Hunt is hearing the poems clearer than ever.

He already has some of his favourites in mind to perform at his upcoming shows - if he remembers.

"I know there are certain poems I'd like to do, but there's a good chance I'll forget to do them.

"If the spontaneity weren't there, it would be a pretty chug-chug show.

"I reckon that when you come off stage having done a show, and that you haven't referred to a list once, that's a sign you've done a good show."

True Troubadours will play at the San Francisco Bath House tomorrow and Friday, and at Masterton's King Street Live on Saturday.

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- The Dominion Post

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