Across the Bridge - SLAM Series

21 September - 7 October 2020

Calling all poets - poetry slam regional heat and finals coming soon

A local poetry group is calling for poets and writers to use their words to represent our region on the national stage. 

Poets from Otago and the Southern Lakes are invited to come slam it with the best for the chance to represent their region at the NZ Poetry Slam national finals in Christchurch. 

Poetic Justice Wanaka are delighted to be running this series – three heats and a final – for the Across the Bridge festival 2020. 

Heats will be held in Queenstown, Cromwell and Wanaka, with the final at the festival in Bannockburn. Entry is free, and all are welcome to come perform and to watch. 

Slam has a particular format that is replicated all over the world. Poems must be less than three minutes long and no costumes and props are allowed; the poems are judged by five audience representatives chosen by the MC.

Poets need to bring along three poems for the heats, which will be run in knock-out rounds. They perform one poem per round, so part of the game is working out whether to use their best poem straight up or save it in the hope of progressing. 

The finalists from the Cromwell, Wanaka and Queenstown will then be invited to compete fro the regional title at the final on October 7 at Coronation Hall in Bannockburn. 

Event co-organiser Laura Williamson said it’s a great time for both the poets and the audience, calling it a “bar game as much as a poetry event”. 

“There’s no one style or one way to win, and we’ve loved sending our regional reps to the finals in the past, who have performed everything from high-country ballads, so spoken word pieces about busted ACLs, to love poems. It’s about your voice.” 

Slam poetry is one of the fastest growing art forms in the world. In New Zealand, the National Poetry Slam has been going since 2011. 

Signups are at 6.30pm, with the action beginning at 7pm. Get there on time to sign up as places will be limited. Bring your friends and family with you to cheer you on. 

Past regional winners have included Wanaka’s Paul Martin and Queenstown’s Dale Grant Stephens, and they have done our community proud, Laura said. 

Liz Breslin won the Wanaka heat in 2014, and came in second runner-up nationwide. “Yes, it’s a competition,” Liz said, “but they’ve got this saying that the points aren’t the point, the poems are the point. People are there with a shared purpose, for a good time.”

The Across the Bridge festival is a festival of the arts running in Bannockburn from October 6 to October 11, 2020. With a range of free and ticketed events. 



Across the Bridge festival:

SLAM Series – Poetic Justice Wanaka -


Across the Bridge SLAM Series schedule: 


QUEENSTOWN – The Sherwood

Monday September 21


WANAKA – Rhyme and Reason

Monday September 28


CROMWELL – The Gate 

Monday October 5 



Wednesday October 7 



For more information, contact event organiser Laura Williamson on 027 414 1785 or



Liz Breslin and Laura Williamson
Poetic Justice Wanaka Coordinatoresses


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