The organisers of Wanaka's Outspoken festival, Julie Le
(left) and Liz Breslin. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Make no mistake, Wanaka's newest arts festival,
Outspoken, is ''about as far away from reciting poetry as you
can get'', its founders insist.
The inaugural non-profit festival of words debuts on January
12 with weekly performances from top New Zealand wordsmiths.
It continues through until February 18.
Its organisers, festival development manager Julia Le and
performer and artist liaison Liz Breslin, are quick to reject
any suggestion of dull poetry recitals in describing the
''No. It's more like stand-up stuff, spilling your guts ...
more like story-telling in the old tradition of the bards,''
Ms Breslin said.
''Often when you say poetry, people can switch off,'' Ms Le
The Outspoken concept came from festival patron and arts
lover Luc Bohyn, of Wanaka restaurant Bistro Gentil - one of
the featured venues.
''He remembered these brilliant dinner performances he'd been
to in Europe ... where you had food and drink and spoken
word, and he just said they were magic,'' Ms Breslin said.
Performers coming to venues across Wanaka - and a Cromwell
winery - include poet Sam Hunt, former New Zealand National
Poetry Slam champion Ali Jacs, rapping hip hop poet Tourettes
(also known as Dominic Hoey), South Auckland Poets Collective
and the Upper Clutha's own Ms Breslin - who founded the
Poetic Justice Wanaka group.
As well as entertaining and engaging the community by
bringing the spoken word to life, the festival aimed to
inspire others to use their own words creatively, Ms Breslin
''That it's all right to play with your words and your
feelings and for it to be a celebrated thing.
''Outspoken is about debunking the myth that words are only
for bookworms ... storytelling is a wonderful medium for
fostering self-confidence, so we are also taking performers
to the schools and giving locals an audience with the Wanaka
As well as Mr Bohyn's financial contribution to get the
festival off the ground, some community sponsorship has been
received and a grant from the Upper Clutha Arts Council will
enable local school pupils with a flair for the arts to
However, further sponsors were being sought to help make the
festival an annual community event, the women said.