Nelson Live Poets Society celebrates 30 years of spoken word

Nelson Live Poets Society will hold a concert to mark the 30th Anniversary of their gatherings at  Yaza Café on Thursday 23 November 2023.  Starting at 6.00pm. $5 on the door. The format will include invited performances by those who have been part of Nelson Live Poets over the years and a roll of honour section where poems from some of our late, great Nelson poets will be read. MC will be Mark Raffills and copies of David Manning’s original feature article on the Renaissance of Poetry in Nelson  (1994) will be available as a take-home memento of the occasion.

Manning’s article, Renaissance of Poetry in Nelson, was published a year after ‘occasional Nelson poet’,  Mark Raffills, started an open mic night for poets. Manning’s was an empathetic piece of writing that captured the spirit of what was happening and profiled many of the early contributors and performers.

With the support of Graham and Pam Savidan, owners of Faces Café Bar, the open mic night was intended as a season of warm winter fire-side evenings. Thirty years later and the gatherings continue.

There have been some small intervals along the way and venues have changed – from Faces to Chez Elco, Yaza Café, Devilles, Vic Rose, The Free House, Royal Hotel, Whakatu, NMIT Student Centre, Prince Albert and currently The Earth Hub, to name a few – but through it all the poems have kept on rolling and the performers have grown in stature and in number. From 2024 Nelson live Poets will return to YAZA Café.

Front folks have changed from time to time too, each bringing their own twist to the monthly gatherings as they have taken up the challenge of keeping the spoken word alive and loud. Mark Raffills, Jessica Le Bas, Mary Thornton, Carol Ercolano, Roger and Deirdre Lusby, Cat Woodward and Dylan Mackie have all shared duties.

Guests have come from all over the country to perform at Nelson Live Poets. Sam Hunt, David Eggleton, the late Hone Tuwhare. and Vincent O’Sullivan have been among them. And there have been many more –  a veritable list of who is who from the poetry, slam and spoken word worlds.

Local poets with a national reputation have also featured, including the late Rachel Bush, Gordon Challis and Panni Palasti, along with Jessica Le Bas, Mark ‘Sharkface’ Thomas and Cliff Fell.

And then there has been the life blood of Live Poets: the local performers who have attended month in and month out, written words until their fingers bled and their hearts almost burst. These warriors of the word set about to entertain, and to be encouraged by, the ever-present audience.

Over the years, first-time tentative readers have developed into accomplished performers, scrawled pieces of paper have become published collections of poems and performers have gone on to represent the Nelson region at the national Poetry Slam, won poetry awards, performed at festivals and toured their own works around the country.

Nelson Live Poets helped Joe Bell launch Golden Bay Live Poets in 1994 and there have been groups started in Motueka and Mapua – all inspired and encouraged by the original city gathering.

You are all invited to come and celebrate at YAZA Cafe – love so much to see you there!

Nelson Live Poets Society
30th Anniversary  Concert
Yaza Café, Nelson
Thursday 23 November 2023.  6.00pm. $5