new zealand electronic poetry centre

David Mitchell


                                        ( Feb. 1981 )

Canterbury University

“ S P A C L A L S “

11 – 15 May 1981


Good Afternoon !  Ladies and Gentlemen of the South Pacific Association of Commonwealth Language and Literature Society ! Firstly, welcome, welcome to you all & in so saying, might I take also, this opportunity of thanking the organisers, ( one, Dr., Peter Simpson , notably; ) for their hospitality, their generosity, the return airfare, & the (adequate) reading fee.
        I am happy to report that, at the present time , the ‘poetry evenings in the pub’ that I started in May 1980 continue , unabated, and are obviously thriving.
        So, then, please take it as a far from empty gesture if in return I invite you all to attend, should you be in Auckland, on a Tuesday evening, between the hours of 7 p.m. & 10 p.m. — please feel free to come to the Globe in Wakefield Street, have a drink & read a poem if you wish, or just relax in the pleasant atmosphere & hear the voices of the poets.
        You will be edified , no doubt, to discover that the weekly audience averages around 45 paying customers, ( $2 ) two dollars each, and the number of readers is usually around 10 or 12, but we have accommodated as many as twenty-one separate readers not counting the guest poet, who choose to read a poem ( or two , or three ) each Tuesday night.
        The show starts with recorded classical music, & then a live performance of original songs accompanied by acoustic guitar & banjo—mandolin, by our resident special Australian Guest folk singer , Sara Mitchell; assisted by Link Mail & Rowan Hunt (at times); this lasts usually for 15 minutes, then there is a deliberate emphasis on new poets ( not necessarily,  young poets ) reading their work, to an assuredly attentive & tolerant audience. Many poets have profited from this opportunity and why should they not ?
        The middle portion of the evening occupies the time slot from 8 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. and this is followed , after a short interval, at approximately 9.25 or 9.30 p.m. by the Guest poet for the week; who receives a $30 fee and has thirty minutes to utilise , on stage , in the prime time of the evening.
        It has been my experience that audience & performers alike all enjoy this format , which has evolved naturally from the first evening’s performance ( in May, 1980 ) - with Jan Kemp and Alistair Paterson – as Guests.
        Other guests have included, Miss Sara Mitchell, C. K. Stead, Ian Wedde, Ian Rockel, Rosemary Menzies, Sir Dove Meyer Robinson, Bill Leadbeater, Stephen Oliver, Stephen Higginson, Peter Olds, Hone Tuwhare, Riemke Ensing, Rowley Habib, Peter Dane, Michele Paterson, Tim Shadbolt, Roland Vogt, Don Barrier, Chris Moisa, Vaughan Morgan, and Garth Wellington, along with many others.

Feb. 1981
[ Christchurch ]
conference –

from “A Preamble to
Poetry Reading”


ęDavid Mitchell

Last updated 30 March, 2010