'Poets Under Pressure' produce the goods

  1. Take six talented creative writers and poets. 
  2. Place them in the stunning setting of an international photographic exhibition, by a giant in photo-journalism. 
  3. Introduce a ten minute time limit and a bit of competition
  4. Set them to work writing poetry, knowing the audience would be the ultimate judge!

Simple ingredients + amazing talent = 9 stunning pieces of original poetry

This was the scene on National Poetry Day 2015 in the exhibition space at Te Manawa Art Gallery Palmerston North.   Participant poets Oprah Oyugi, Kristelle Plimmer, and Mary-Jane Duffy teamed up against the creative writing team from Massey University Joy Green, Thom Conroy and Leonel Alvarado in the ambient-lit gallery.  They were paired off against each other under the watchful eye of MC Richard Mays, editor of the Tribune Newspaper, and given just ten minutes to produce poetry in response to photographs chosen by audience members.  

In addition to having to write, the poets each had to read out their poem, and listen while the audience chose the winner from each pair by the level of clapping - tense stuff for some participants, for which poetry writing is a crafting process which can take up to many years to come to the point of actually fruiting a poem!  All were good natured about it, and willingly participated in the interests of 'the higher goal'.  Thanks to that attitude we are able to use these, works as part of KUPU, to encourage others to write poetry.

The winner?  Oprah Uyagi, a student studying Creative Writing with Mary-Jane Duffy at Whitireia Polytechnic.  Here is the original take on the first verse of Oprah's poem 'Alahu Akbar'.  To read the full poem click here.