Paws for thought on poetry day

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When was the last time you read a poem? Try something new for poetry day Friday (26 August). You might get to pat a puppy…

Words: Emma Rawson, Photographs: Chloe Francesca

To celebrate Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day this Friday, Waikato University’s Mayhem Literary Journal is hosting a Poems for Pets event to raise money for the New Lives Animal Rescue. Slam poets*, narrative poets and award-winning playwright Renēe Boyer will read poems while the audience cuddles an animal from the New Lives Animal Rescue. Rachael Elliott, the 2014 winner of the national live poetry performance competition, Poetry Slam, says Poems for Pets started as a bit of a joke but she hopes it will raise awareness of animal welfare issues.

“We were throwing ideas around about what we could do for National Poetry Day and, because I think puppies improve everything, I suggested we add puppies to a poetry reading. Then I realised that maybe my silly idea would be really cool,” she says.

Mastiff Puppies (1)

“There are a mind-blowingly large number of dogs and cats needing a hand to find their forever home and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes at the rescue. Poems for Pets is also about opening-up poetry to new people. Breaking down the idea that poetry is all ‘esoteric and academic’ is hugely important. Poetry is for everyone, so anyone is welcome to read on the night, on any topic. For anyone feeling nervous about going to something so scary sounding as a poetry reading, there are puppies to break the ice!”

Poems for Pets is one of more than 100 events taking place around the country on National Poetry Day including a poetry crawl in Wellington, a poetry performance art event in Auckland and haiku poems being inscribed on boulders in Katikati.

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Those who can’t make it to a live performance can download a short poem from Poems in Your Pocket website. Readers who text or call the Poetry Phone can tell the poets on the line what is going on in their life to receive a personalised poem or request one for a friend. You can also make poetry requests for friends – written to order.

*Slam poetry is live delivery of original poetry by its author.

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