07 Apr 2022

This is rough

07 Apr 2022

Poetry written by those living on the street

At Phantom Billstickers, we’ve been pasting poems in public almost as long as we’ve been printing posters.

But we’ve never taken part in a launch like this before.

‘Rough Lives Speak’ is a new poetry anthology from a group who face more obstacles than most. People living rough on the streets of Auckland often have amazing stories to tell. However, they aren’t the sort of voices that usually get an audience.

That’s about to change. A Street Poets’ Collective called SPACE has been working with Auckland Libraries and Auckland City Mission over the past few years to run poetry workshops. This project has led to a book – Rough Lives Speak.

And now some of the poems from that book are appearing in Phantom frames around central Auckland.

Daren Kamali is helping bring the project to life. We asked him to fill us in on the story to date.

Daren, what’s behind the idea of poetry from rough sleepers?

“I’ve always had a dream to form a Street Poets Collective as I started busking in Auckland’s CBD doing street poetry during late 90s. The SPACE concept arose again when I started working at Central Library and noticed the library was rough sleeper-friendly. So I took this as an opportunity to give them a voice through poetry, and formed SPACE. 

“Apart from published material, most of the work such as photos, unpublished poems, videos and ephemera, will be deposited in special collections at Central Auckland Library.”

How is the project run?

“It’s an Auckland Libraries, Auckland City Mission and Connected Communities collaboration. SPACE started running poetry workshops and gathering at the City Mission in March 2021, and ran 21 weeks of writing and conversations before lockdown in August 2021. From these meetings we are creating an anthology that we’re planning to launch in June 2022. As of early February 2022, SPACE meetings and workshops have been held at St Matthew’s Church on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson Street in the city.”

Why poetry on posters, and why work with Phantom Billstickers?

“We wanted to work with Phantom as they publish poems publicly and in various locations in the CBD. That’s the primary focus of this collective – to get their words and voices to the public. And what a great idea for walking traffic to stop and read a poem or two from the streets.”

Any feedback so far?

“We’ve had articles, videos, word of mouth covered by the media and the general public, with amazing support from Auckland Council and Connected Communities in the sourcing and funding of the SPACE initiative.

“SPACE poets and artists cannot wait to see their work published and launched. We also have a bunch of readers who are eagerly awaiting the launch of the anthology ‘Rough Lives Speak.’”

Got an arts project, a concert or a cultural event that needs exposure? Call 0800 PHANTOM or email anton@0800phantom.co.nz to find out how Phantom can amplify your voice.

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