Guerrilla Poets- Auckland Central, New Zealand

ORGANIZERS: Miriam Barr

CONTACT: miriamtbarr AT gmail DOT com

You & The Guerrilla Poets: A street-art event for 100 Thousand Poets for Change

The Set Up

You & The Guerrilla Poets involved the Guerrilla Poets and The Literatti banding together to bring poetry to the central city streets of Auckland with a poetry trail that followed the footsteps of the famous 1969 demonstration that saw thousands of hippies and political activists take over Albert Park as a space for the people.

Everyone was invited to join the poets at midday at Myers Park. Armed with chalk, poetry banners and their voices the plan was to process along Queen Street, up Wellesley Street and into Albert Park, chalking, performing and handing out poetic messages of change as they go. The event would finish up in Albert Park and an attempt to completely fill in the area with poetry and get as many people as possible to interact with the message for change.

The Guerrilla Poets have been hitting the streets of Auckland to chalk moments of inspiration for unsuspecting passers-by since 2006 when Miriam Barr, Renee Liang and Christian Jensen met at Poetry Live and started organising group missions. When Barr received the 100 Thousand Poets for Change call out for public events, she says “A special guerrilla mission made perfect sense, this project has always been quite literally about bringing poetry to the street.” The Literatti’s involvement also fitted perfectly, their current project reTHiNK Possible Worlds, seeks to change public attitudes to mental health, so that is one theme passers-by can expect to see transforming the cityscape on the 24th – though participants are encouraged to share whatever message they wish.

You & The Guerrilla Poets on Facebook

The Outcome

Armed with poetry banners sharing poems in bite-sized chunks Miriam Barr, Christian Jensen, Daniel Larsen and Shane Hollands of The Literatti and their fellow Guerrilla Poets Rachael Naomi Heimann, Christie Orr and Simon Smithe gathered in Myers Park and by 12:30 had starting hitting the pavement with their words.

The group walked from Myers Park up the steps onto Mayoral Drive, down Queen Street, across the lights onto Wellesley St and up into Albert Park, once home to the historic Jumping Sundays, where they were met by reinforcements in the form of Richie Paine, Simone Kaho, Anna Forsyth and some newbies. The troupe joined up with a sustainability rally and left the surrounding area decorated with poetic messages of change that should last at least a couple of days in real life and hopefully a fair bit longer in memory.

Throughout the day members of the public were invited in to add their voice to the message and have their photo taken with a banner they agree with.

Poetry banners bore text by Malcolm X, Michael Rothenberg, and poets from The Literatti including Miriam Barr, Christian Jensen, Daniel Larsen, Shane Hollands, Jai MacDonald, Maddy King and Simone Kaho. The text on The Literatti’s flags all originated from their reTHiNK Possible Worlds show. Visit www.theliteratti.com to find out more about the reTHiNK Possible Worlds show and message.

reTHiNK Possible Worlds is supported by a reTHiNK Grant as part of the Like Minds, Like Mine programme, a national NZ initiative to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental unwellness. We are all human beings navigating the maze of life. Today seemed to expand on that – we are all beings navigating the maze of life.

The Evidence

Photos by Christian Jensen

The recordings coming soon

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