National Poetry Day arrives next week, and Bill Sutton of the Hawke’s Bay Live Poets’ Society has organised some events you might enjoy. From Bill …

There’s a real buzz evident in the Hawke’s Bay poetry scene this month, in the lead up to our annual Poetry Day on July 22nd.  Previously this was supported by Montana Wines, now Brancott Estate, but with their withdrawal as a poetry sponsor NZ Post has stepped up and provided funding support, hence the new name of National (previously ‘Montana’) Poetry Day.

In past years, live poetry readings to mark the Poetry Day were held at St Luke’s church in Napier. But when our local organiser, Phyllis Gudgeon, died in June 2010, the planned event was cancelled. So in December last year I offered to organise the readings, as a newly-appointed committee member of the Hawke’s Bay Live Poets’ Society, the regional poets’ collective.

The main change made has been to promote the event more widely, and take the live poetry readings to several different venues, as there had been a general feeling many people probably weren’t aware of them.  So on July 22nd there will be live poetry readings at Beattie & Forbes Bookshop starting at 10am, at St Luke’s Church from 11am, at Taradale Senior Citizens from 1pm, and then on the following Tuesday, 26th July, at the Eastern Institute of Technology Students’ Cafeteria starting at 12pm.

Why not Hastings venues as well? The historical reason is the Live Poets’ Society holds its regular monthly poetry readings in Hastings, so Napier was seen as being the city missing out. But I do hope to address that issue in future years, and to take the National Poetry Day readings to a range of venues throughout the region, starting with Hastings, Flaxmere and Havelock North.

This year’s readings in Napier will be provided by four well-regarded local poets – Rose Whittaker, Dave Sharp, Carole Stewart and Angus McDonald – 3 from Napier, 1 from Hastings. The prospect of reading their poetry at four different venues over four days is believed to have already resulted in several nervous breakdowns, with emergency support being required from husbands, girlfriends and investment advisors.

As a relative newcomer to Hawke’s Bay – I only arrived at Greenmeadows in 1983 – it has amazed me to see every year some elderly “name” poet brought here from out of town, to read their work and be accorded extensive media coverage, while our own local poets, whose work is often of an equal or higher standard, are routinely ignored.

It’s almost like a Hawke’s Bay version of the “cultural cringe” New Zealand used to be famous for in the Holyoake era. High time to do away with it for good!

Bill Sutton

BayBuzz: Go to www.beattieandforbes.co.nz and click on Poetry in the LH column, then NZPoetry, to find recent collections by Michele Leggott, Glen Colquhoun, Anne Kennedy, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman and several others. Not to mention collections of even more famous poetry by the likes of Shakespeare, Milton and Hardy.

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