Dunedin Poetry Readings

The Octagon Poetry Collective readings at Circadian Rhythm Cafe, St Andrew Street, Dunedin, have started up for another season. These are free for all; and usually have a guest poet, who is bookended by two open mike slots. The atmosphere is convivial and collegial; the audience made up of the general public and many local poets; the food is good vegan or vegetarian fare, with a homely-but-high-quality savour.

Cy Mathews gave an excellent reading last week, taking us into a hypnogogic, eerily insightful landscape of hybrid creatures and darkly carnivalesque urban moments. The work shivers between comedy and melancholy. His patter in between poems was as seamless and professional as anything I’ve seen in the big literary festivals overseas. Hats (and black cats?) off to Cy.

The schedule from now runs:

April Thurs 21 MC Emma Neale (Guest poet: Lesley Wheeler)

May Wed 11 MC Richard Reeve (Guest poet: Michael Steven (or another) )

May Thurs 19 MC TBA Rhys Brookbanks Memorial Reading

May Wed 25 MC Sue Wootton (Guest poet: David Eggleton)

June Wed 15 MC Kajsa Louw (Guest poet: Judith Cowley)

June Wed 29 MC Diane Brown (Guest poet: Michael Harlow)

Some quick biographical information on Lesley Wheeler: Lesley is an American poet and a lecturer in twentieth-century literature at Washington and Lee University. This year she is in New Zealand on a Fullbright Scholarship to Victoria University in Wellington. Her most recent collection of poems, Heterotopia, won the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and was published in 2010. In her research she is especially interested in the various ways poets connect with each other and with audiences: through reading series, online groups, workshops in and beyond universities, and many other mechanisms. As a scholar she has also written about poetry in performance and women’s poetry, with an emphasis on U.S. traditions. Her blog “The Cave, The Hive: Poetry and Community” tracks this work in progress (http://thecavethehive.wordpress.com/).

Come along and make the cafe bulge at the seams, and the windows steam up with the condensation of a happy crowd.

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13 Responses to Dunedin Poetry Readings

  1. Elisabeth says:

    Emma, Claire Benyon sent me here all the way from Australia. I’m not a poet but I write prose through the lens of poetry, at least I try. I relished both your poem and your prose on Claire’s blog and look forward to reading more. I’m so pleased to meet you.

    • ejneale says:

      Thank you for the warm feedback! What a lovely first response for a neophyte’s foray into blogging, too. May the poetry lens stay clear and luminous for your writing.

  2. You could invite Michael O’Leary


    Gods gift: our soul, peeks out sometimes
    when poets fall in love
    for every cell of being cries
    the praise of God above
    and from such love come mighty things
    an infinite surprise
    of poets new who’ll speak of love
    and open all our eyes


    • ejneale says:

      I’ll pass on the suggestion to the loose association of fellow poets who help to organise the readings. The season seems to have fallen into a lull for now – but I’ll post on here when readings pick up again.

  3. Emma,

    I am planning a vacation in Dunedin, in the first half of January, 2013; what poetry events are happening then? I am a poet

    • ejneale says:

      Hi there
      the Circadian Rhythm readings only run till October, and all the slots are taken up with local poets this season – we have a plethora of poets here, all willing to read for no fee. There is an open mike spot each time, though: anyone is free to get up and read during this – though it’s so popular the MCs are tending to say only one poem each… I don’t know of anything scheduled for January yet – but probably the best place to ask, closer to the time, would be the University Book Shop. What sort of event were you looking out for?

      • I’d really like to attend a reading or two, but basically anything that will open me up to the local poetry scene. I may be moving to Dunedin in about 4 to 5 years’ time, so having an introduction to the scene there would be good for me, in addition to getting the chance to enjoy the poetry.

      • ejneale says:

        So probably contacting UBS closer to the time is the best bet – or the local branch of the society of authors – both will have a better sense of Dunedin-wide events for January once December arrives. I’d say!

  4. Ian says:

    It is great to see a lively poetry scene in Dunedin however with a Plethora of poets in Dunedin it may be time to organise some more events to give people a chance to read their work. Every time I attend an open mike event with hopes of reading something the schedule is already full and as you say those lucky enough to get a chance often only get to read one or two short pieces.

    • ejneale says:

      I’ve asked the other MCs if they’ve ever had to turn anyone away from the open mike slots and none of us can remember it happening. Next time, please let one of us know who you are and we’ll put you on first at the open mike slot! We’re a volunteer set of people organising these nights, and thought that we’d only get reasonable audiences during the university semesters, which is why we end the season in October. And we also thought it was sensible to limit people to two or three short poems, as we usually have a ‘headline’ act that is often the main reason people come along, and, to be blunt, if we don’t limit people, bad poetry and bad performances that go on for far too long end up alienating the audience and turning people off the whole idea. If you want to organise more readings for November through January, please do – the lovely staff at Circadian Rhythm are very approachable – or it’d be great to have another venue and a different approach if you wanted to run with the idea! The more poetry happenings round town the better!

  5. Te Ao Hou says:

    Hi, what nights and times are the poetry readings for the rest of this year? Thank you very much

    • ejneale says:

      Hi there – usually penultimate Wednesdays every month – starting at 8pm. There is an extra, earlier reading in August as well, with Karen Zelas and Sugu Pillay – I will post the date for that up here shortly, but if I take too long, please call the cafe on 474 9994. The readings will run till the end of the final university term.

  6. ejneale says:

    Dates for the August readings are 22 August – Diane Brown and James Norcliffe with MC Sue Wootton
    and 27 August – Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas with MC David Reiter

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