Two poets and a musician combine to present a comic and lyric portrait of Aotearoa New Zealand and its place in the South Pacific today. Their Mad Doggerel poetry cabaret is full of cascading words, wild musicality and lightning humour.
This entertaining show will bring three nationally-eminent artists to halls and venues throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, including a National Poetry Day performance at the National Library in Wellington on Friday 26 August.
David Eggleton, the current Poet Laureate of Aotearoa 2019 - 2022, has been described by reviewers as a a jazz-bop-beatnik poet 'whose poems never cease to amaze and astound in their creativity ... in performance he is no longer just a poet but a ranter, a raver, a conjuror ... his poetry spirals into today's world from a Polynesian heritage'.
David Eggleton, an acclaimed writer, has received just about every literary award for poetry it is possible to receive in New Zealand, from the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Poetry in 2016 to PEN NZ Best First Book of Poems in 1987. Overseas, amongst other events, he has taken part in the Poetry Olympics and the Ranters' Cup Final, winning Street Entertainer of the Year for Poetry at the London Convent Garden Festival.
Daren Kamali was a co-founder of the South Auckland Poets' Collective in 2008, an organisation aimed at encouraging young Pacific poets to tell their stories. An accomplished performance poet, as well as a musician, Daren Kamali has travelled the world presenting poems based on Polynesian and Pasifika legends and his own life story. Daren has a Master of Creative Writing with First Class Honours from the University of Auckland (2017). He has released two albums of his poetry set to music using a mix of traditional and rock music instruments.
Richard Wallis is a Dunedin-based classical guitarist. As a soundscape musician he has worked extensively with David Eggleton in producing music and video recordings.
Listen to this inspiring interview on RNZ, if you're after a poetry teaser pay particular attention at 16.30mins and 19.00mins. Click here for the interview.
Review Reefton Club Thursday 11th August
If you haven’t been to see many “Arts on Tour” shows here in Reefton then you may not be aware of the variety of high-quality styles of entertainment that these performers provide.
Apart from the different genres of music and great personalities that go with them that have been presented to us this way, there have been some that are really something else and every bit as worth experiencing.
Mad Doggerel Cabaret was one of these. They were two poets; Daren Kamali and David Eggleton the current New Zealand Poet Laureate, accompanied during many of their recitations by acoustic and electric guitarist, Richard Wallace. In his musical interpretations he gave their wonderful written work a further sense of rhythm and form to bring out that ‘rock star bursting to get out’ impression, particularly by David Eggleton as he gyrated and orated in time with the chimes and the rhymes
I do apologise for that and the ham that I am. Which brings me to Sam. Sam Hunt that is who David admits has been a big inspiration in his poetry and performance style.
First up in the evening though was Daren Kamali, who lives in Auckland but is native Fijian born and raised. His poetry was to me, beautiful and haunting and spoke of a migrants struggle through lamentations of cultural disturbance, family separation, becoming someone else but remembering with love and pride where he came from and the strength to be found there. He mixed his poems with English and Fijian prose that elevated the power and beauty that grew from them and connectedness we are finally embracing as part of a wider Pacific entity. I was fascinated by his poems that gave meaning and understanding to such things as the ‘kava ceremony and his mention of “Burotukula” seen only when the time is right, a mystical island that we would know as “Hawaiki”
But Daren is also more than a poet. He works with the ‘rough sleepers’ in Auckland and has encouraged many to tell their stories through poetry, even publishing a book of their great work, a copy of which was given away as a prize to a member of the audience who could recite a remembered poem.
David Eggleton’s time as Poet Laureate is almost over and he is the 12th to be honoured with that title. “The Pandemic Laureate” he calls himself. His work bores right into the ‘Kiwi vernacular and psyche’ with works entitled “Drift North”, “The Old Man Nor-Wester”, “Untold” about the tomb of the unknown miner in Cromwell, “Ode to the Five Cent Coin”, “The Bush Paddock”, “Wahine Toa”, “My Phone”, “Ode to Evil – Lust for Life”, “Sunburn” and “Identity Parade” Much of that was easily identifiable with great evocations like “farmers corrugated faces” and brought sniggers and enthusiastic “yeahs” from the audience.
One of his works really bagged Dunedin which paradoxically really made me feel homesick for the city I spent 15 years in. That was really clever in my opinion.
What he might compose about the West Coast I eagerly await.
Poetry may not be your thing but I do have a sneaking suspicion that a number who were there last night may have thought the same thing but gave it a shot anyway and were pleasantly surprised by what they experienced.
As David said “It is the job of the Poet Laureate to bring poetry to the people all over New Zealand”
The Reefton part of that mission was well achieved.
Keith Tonkin 12/8/22
This event is proud to be part of the Turn Up The Heat festival in Christchurch Central City this August. It's a month full of roaming characters, comedy, cabaret, drag, variety shows, family events, musical theatre and fiery food.
Check out the entire festival programme at turnuptheheat.nz