Book award winner helping to spread the joy of poetry through new book

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

The poetry community is turning out in droves across the country to discover New Zealand poetry, share poetry and share in the joy of the written and spoken word, all on National Poetry Day today.

It can all be seen on beaches, public transport, hospitals and streets. Marae and libraries are just some of the many places that are hosting events such as readings, poetry slams, mic nights and more.

Nicole Titihuia Hawkins (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Ngāti Pāhauwera) recently won the Jessie Mackay Prize for Poetry at the Ockham NZ Book Awards this year for her debut collection poetry Whai. It talks of her navigating her relationships with whānau, her students through life as a kaiako but, most importantly, about her identity.

Hawkins says she chose poetry as a medium for telling her stories because she found that she couldn’t do it any other way, and “found power in taking back the English language and using it in te ao Māori”.

“I can’t compose haka or waiata so this is my contribution, my creative outlet. Poetry can be really forgiving, flexible and fluid, and I really enjoy that element of it.”

She was also a part of the Australia and New Zealand Poetry Showcase online event recently, and will be at the Auckland Writers Festival tonight to do a short reading of her mahi, along with doing a kōrero with broadcaster Emma Espiner.

Anyone wanting to buy her Whai can do so online from her publisher We Are Babies.