KUPU welcomes poets from all ages and stages to put poetry in centre stage.

KUPU was a great idea with simple beginnings.  In 2013 two top class Palmerston North poets joined forces with the Central Library to create the 'KUPU SIX' installation.  Helen Lehndorf and Leonel Alvarado gave us three pieces of work each to showcase on surfaces in and around the library building, which has an impressive architectural reputation in New Zealand.  The poems were unveiled in time for National Poetry Day, and caught the imagination of the public.  

The four cornerstones of the KUPU poetry programme are:

  • Showcase - written or oral form, in any location, on any surface
  • Fusion - poetry with other creative disciplines to produce extraordinary works
  • Education - sharing and passing on all the skills, knowledge, whakapapa and kaupapa of poetry
  • Celebration - celebrating the literary and artistic heritage and culture of poetry

In 2014 horizons were expanded, and we had enough events and programmes to develop a seven week poetry season.  We ran our first competition, HOMEGROWN POETRY, and a four-session workshop series on Slam Poetry.   We supported countless poetry book launches, promoted 'Black River' - a poetry and printmaking collaboration featuring works by twelve celebrated poets and printmakers at Te Manawa Art Gallery, and produced a chapter book in collaboration with Haunui Press, and poets Tim Upperton, Joy Green and Leonel Alvarado.  We also created the KUPU DIAMONDS to enable us to publicly  acknowledge our gratitude to the poets who allow us to use their published works.  It was through the 2014 season that we discovered the strength of the local writing and performance community.  

KUPU 2015 continues the theme of developing local poetry culture with || view || share || publish ||.  We've pushed the 'Showcase' cornerstone with our first foray into e-publishing of local poetry.  The result is ‘catch and release:  Poems from Manawatῡ’, which was released on 27 August 2015.  The anthology showcases the work of poets who submitted work for selection, and has resulted in a colourful mix of known and previously unpublished poets writing about Manawatu - the expression of the connection between heart and place.  We also invited poets to contribute work for lots of different exhibition and participation initiatives, and have been thrilled with the response. 

Working with the community on a project like this is inherently risky.  There are no guarantees that what you’re trying to do will resonate sufficiently in the community to generate the kind of responses you want.  In this case, we've found ourselves well supported.  We've received more than enough material.  And we’re very fortunate to have a pool of talented, recognised poets and writers who are helping us to do that, many of whom have generously shared their knowledge, craft and time for our benefit.

Helen and Leonel have continued to be extremely supportive of KUPU and are part of our small and committed project team.  We've been lucky to work with an impressive array of designers, publishers, poets, workshop facilitators, photographers, fabricators, signwriters, builders and cultural institutions.  We're very grateful for their contributions.