‘Rough Lives Speak’, a collection of poetry by members of Auckland’s rough sleeper community, is launched tonight to the delight of those involved.
Daren Kamali, Auckland Council’s Pacific Heritage Advisor and founder of SPACE (Street Poets and Artists Collective Enterprise) says it’s fantastic to get to this moment.
“It was so exciting to release the collection of poems and now sharing it with the community is such a joyful time for me.”
He says the book is more than poetry.
“This book is not just a collection of stories. It represents the mana and the dignity of the people who shared it with us.
The poems address themes of suicide, mental health, wellness, incarceration, domestic violence, homelessness, addictions, and loneliness.
Wilf Holt of Auckland City Mission -Te Tāpui Atawhai says the book means so much to those whose stories are in the pages.
“It’s more than words on a page. This process was beneficial for many people involved as they discovered or rediscovered their poetic talent and had a platform to tell their stories. It was wonderful to watch them engage in the classes, work hard on their poetry, and bond with each other.
Poetry workshops began in March 2021 and, in addition to stopping during the Covid lockdown, have regularly taken place either at Auckland City Mission facilities or at St Matthew-in- the-City.
The book was co-edited by New Zealand Poet Laureate David Eggleton and has a back cover by former Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh. Both visited the workshops to share stories and poems with SPACE members and work with street poets.
In addition to the book launch, an exhibition by SPACE artist Filipo Tu’u will be presented.
A talented artist who works with cardboard, a wooden board, pencil, pen and paint, Filipo has produced a series of portraits of the poets involved in SPACE.
The book will be available for borrowing from Auckland Council Libraries, both as a physical copy and as an e-book.
Filipo’s works will be exhibited alongside a selection of poems on large posters at the city’s central library until August 24.