San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

24/02/2017 - 24/02/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Poetry in Motion does a twist on traditional slam: eight poets, three, themed rounds with cumulative scores counting to the final result.

San Fran, 171 Cuba St, Te Aro
24 Feb 2017
TICKETS: $10/$8  

Theatre , Performance Poetry ,

Rhymes, plaints and polemic

Review by Margaret Austin 25th Feb 2017

The event is a Poetry Slam at San Fran, and the audience is ready to be slammed. It’s to be an evening of competitive poetry.  

“How can poetry be competitive?” my companion asks me. “What are the criteria?”

“We’re not looking for a university degree,” the MC assures us. “The judges will be looking for how well the poem’s written and how well performed. And audience reaction will have something to do with the score.”

There are six poets, three rounds, and five judges. 

We hear some rhymes, some plaints and some polemic. I love a poem about diarrhoea in which ‘stance’ rhymes with ‘pants’, a work which is full of literary allusions telling us that “only criminals use similes and metaphors” and a lengthy pun-filled rave about bread. 

On foreplay versus terrible sex, we get “All these bits need a licking, but which bit will do?” A reference to “my wild lady garden” is the tamest line in another poem.

On a serious note, from a fat girl about her sister: “My body is a house she doesn’t want to live in.” And from a poet to his mate in prison: “If I were you, with the cards you’ve been given / I’d say ‘Fuck this welfare shit! This isn’t livin’.” 

Scores are read out as we go. How judges decide between 6 out of 10 and 6.6 out of 10 is beyond me.

Poetry works best when it avoids self-indulgence. A tendency to be strident, though that’s probably because of sincerity, alienates. There has to be something worth saying – or at least saying well or wittily.

And the best poets use plenty of literary devices – puns, similes, metaphors, alliteration – and, as one of this event’s writers put it: “I went to a poems evening, and it didn’t rhyme.”  


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