Thank F*** it’s Friday with slam champion Ali Jacs

 ali and tourettes


Word up! The Outspoken Festival of Words & Storytelling winds up this week with one final gig, and it’s going to be a cracker. Dominic Hoey, aka Tourettes, and Ali Jacs will be hitting the stage at Amigos Mexican Grill on Tuesday evening with a mix of family, religion, politics, relationships, sexuality, environmentalism, books and Monopoly.

Tourettes discovered the power of words, and of reorganising them, as a way of dealing with dyslexia when he was at school. He’s been expressing himself with them ever since, through music, including punk and rap albums, spoken word performances and published poetry. Crowned New Zealand Slam Champion in 2012, Ali Jacs is a performance poet and storyteller from Wellington. She competed in 2013 in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Minneapolis and recently published her first chapbook Romantic Pragmatism.

We had a few words of our own with Ali as she got ready to head our way. And watch out for her poem ‘Floss’ in the autumn issue of On Magazine, out March 1.

So Ali, you’ve been the New Zealand slam champion. Can you explain how slam works to the uninitiated?

Slam has different meanings to different people – but in its most common form a poetry slam is a lively and interactive poetry competition where poets perform their poetry aloud. There is no music, no costumes and poets have a time limit (usually three minutes) to impress the audience and several judges with scorecards who are randomly selected by the Slam-master or Slam-mistress at the beginning of the evening. Poets are eliminated through several rounds until one poet is left standing. The key difference between a slam and poetry reading is that the audience is encouraged to be rowdy and interact with the poet on stage.Speaking of slam-mistresses, you recently got married. Any thoughts on love poems?

Love is a beautiful thing, yet often misunderstood and/or misrepresented in popular culture. It’s understandable why so many poems are written on the subject, but I really don’t have any time for the traditional lovey-dovey type poems. I prefer my love poems with a bit of grit. A bit of reality. Something that reflects the ebbs and flows of lasting love and that doesn’t gloss over something so complex. A friend read out James Kavanaugh’s ‘To Love is Not to Possess’ as part of our wedding ceremony, which I think is right on the mark. 

Tell us something you and Tourettes have in common.

I think we both like to tell it like we see it, we’re both prepared to stand up and tell people how the world looks from behind our eyes. We’re both quite political in a lot of our work. And of course we’re both not content to let poems stay on the page, they need to be brought alive.

Best NZ poet with a middle name staring with ‘K’: JK Baxter or CK Stead?

JK Baxter hands down. We studied ‘The Maori Jesus’ in high school English class and it was the only poem I actually enjoyed studying. I pretty much hated everything else we studied! I found most of it fluffy, boring and irrelevant. Aside from penning the occasional poem here and there through my early twenties, I didn’t reconnect with poetry properly until I discovered spoken word and slam in 2009.

What are you outspoken about?

A lot. There’s a hell of a lot of to be outspoken about these days. My poetry is a primarily a medium for expressing messages of social and environmental justice, equality, LGBT rights, promoting understanding between diverse communities and generally encouraging people to be more human to each other. Most of the time I try to introduce a bit of humour to balance the serious stuff, as no-one likes to be lectured at. And then sometimes I just like to tell a good story for the sake of it.
Good stories for the sake of them. We like that. Catch Ali Jacs and Tourettes at the Outspoken Festival of Words & Storytelling on Tuesday, February 18 from 6pm at Amigos.


As for What’s ON this weekend, Robbie is playing live on Friday night at Woody’s, and if you can stay up until 4am, you can watch local Skeleton racer Katharine Eustace sliding for glory in Heats 3 & 4 of her event at Sochi. For all that is love and local, the Bullock Bar has Robert Glen on Friday and Hair of the Dog on Saturday night, while Gin & Raspberry is hosting a spot of Americana/Jazz fusion with Tattletale Saints & 10 String Symphony on Saturday. We hear they are “O” for “oarsome”!

On Sunday, check out the Craft Market at Pembroke Park, and of course Sunday is also the day for Sunday Sessions at the Snug at Ruby’s Cinema. Just 12 bucks gets you in to see a film in Cinema 2 – a great way to chill out as the weekend winds away.

To appear in our Gig Guide, submit your events to our website. For further support with promotion, advertising, interviews, reviews and photography for your happenings, contact


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Connect with Facebook

— required *

— required *