Gig review: Wanaka Showcase & the Lyttleton Poets at the Outspoken Festival


Lyttleton Poet

Andy Coyle from Lyttleton: We fell in love with him at the poetry reading. PHOTO: Laura Williamson

Visiting Canadian PAUL WILLIAMSON caught the Wanaka Showcase and Catalyst Roadshow at the Outspoken Festival of Words & Storytelling last night.

Outspoken. Well spoken.

A Canadian visiting Wanaka, not for the first time, I am well aware of this lovely town’s reputation as a centre for sports activities, both winter and summer. But I can say I am increasingly aware it is a Mecca for culture.

Take the current festival of words and storytelling, Outspoken. Seven weeks of celebration of words, whether in stories or in poems. Alas, I am only here for one of those events. But I went. To the unique Cinema Paradiso. And I was charmed.

This was a two-part evening. One half the Catalyst Roadshow, featuring a group of five accomplished poets from Lyttelton. Superb poetry, read with enthusiasm, drama, and humour. Messages to sons and daughters, accounts of falling in love with poetry, saucy celebrations of unfulfilled dreams of sexual conquests and even a woman regaling us with her search for perfect knickers. I loved these liberating Lytteltonians. I loved their poems.

But perhaps the most exciting part of the evening was that devoted to Wanaka poets, from a surprisingly cool ten-year-old, to the voices of the far more experienced.  While all read with poise, manifest comfort on the stage, and confidence in their words, it was the youth that made the evening uplifting.

Is the next generation illiterate and uncommunicative orally because they spend all their time texting?  Not if these kids are an example.  A young woman, caressing herself, describing her fears, even panic, about her creation, her baby, which we learn in the last line is a suicide bomb.  Another young woman questioning whether teen-agers are really a different species, leaving us with the thought that perhaps adults should be labelled “diluted teenagers”. A remarkable duo, speaking in turns and at critical times together, asking us why is it not cool to be different, white, black, gay, or straight?

Outspoken? Well, these are topics not discussed in my teenaged years. Well spoken? You bet.


Find out more about Outspoken and get yourself tickets for the final two shows here:

Words are ON.



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