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Print Version

NZ Fringe Festival 2013
produced by Jerome Chandrahasen

at Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington
From 1 Feb 2013 to 15 Feb 2013
[Fridays only]

Reviewed by Stewart Lund, 2 Feb 2013

Poetry Slam is a night for anyone of essentially any age or ability to try their hand at live poetry. In this case, ‘poetry' proves to be a very vague term to encompass what is demonstrated on the first night of the three Poetry Slams this Fringe Festival.

We hear comedy, serious rhyming, and non-rhyming. Yet all proves to be far more entertaining than one might think, and makes the Raw Poetry competition stand out from the typical open-mic stand up night.

I must admit I was extremely unsure of what I would be introduced to upon entering the Fringe Bar. I admit to not believing that poetry could pull off its own two hour show in the same format that comedy is proven to work. In this case, I've been proven wrong.

The night's MC Jerome Chandrahasen (affectionately dubbed ‘The Slam-Master' by one of the crew) manages to rile up enough initial enthusiasm before our first performer takes to the stage. From here, each act performs a poem of no more than three minutes, broken only by MC Jerome's quirky and funny improvised segues.

Within the first round alone, we hear a range of poems covering a broad variety of topics such as self-deprecation, family anecdotes, children and – surprisingly enough – euthanasia.

Round two knocks the competitors down to only 5 (who will all progress to the final round in a fortnight) and this field is again culled down to a mere three for the final cash-prize round.

All in all, Poetry Slam III has caught my attention surprisingly more than I imagined. We hear a range of poetic styles from performers who appear to have their own followings in their own specific areas of expertise. And although I must confess that by the start of round three I am starting to feel a little drowsy, this has certainly not stopped me from wishing to see how the final goes in a couple of weeks' time.

What Raw Poetry Slam has proven to me, and hopefully to other uninitiated members of the audience, is that poetry can work in the same situations as stand-up comedy can, even if not all are necessarily funny. What we hear is entertaining, well written and (mostly) intelligent.

If you get the chance before the end of the Fringe this year, go check out some of Wellington's new Poetic talent, whether it be next week in the second round of the heats or in the following week's final. Maybe even surprise yourself and participate too?

Go on – I reckon you will have a good time. 
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