by Gill Ward
Greetings and love to Poetry fans
I have had to put a lot of thought into this and I expect you may realise what comes next.
The lockdowns gave many of us time to think and reassess our lives. Well, me anyway…
Elizabeth and I have talked seriously about the future of Poets to the People and discussed our options. She is unable to do it now and without making excuses I am not going to continue it, either. I am sad to tell you all this as everyone has been so wonderful with support and participation. When Lindsay Rabbitt and I first thought up the idea over 15 years ago his tenet was to ‘bring stellar poets out to Kapiti’. We sure did that. After some thought we realised many literary functions took place in Wellington which many of us were unable to get into on a regular basis. Late afternoon on a Sunday we decided would suit both audience and poets and it worked. Thanks Lindsay!
A little history
Lembas Café was our first venue with the innovative Gail Lewis and that was just what we wanted. The new owners couldn’t do Sundays so we moved over to Karen across the road at Valhalla. When they closed we found various temporary places before we had several great years at High Tide Café in Paraparaumu. We loved Leigh and her staff but the café closed and just as I was hyperventilating over this I ran into Gail and she said, ‘Why didn’t you ask me?’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘because you’re in the Mall and there are rules.’ Gail saw to that and it has been a marvellous place for poetry.
For four years Elizabeth Coleman and Michael Keith took over. What a pleasure to sit there every month and enjoy the sessions with all care and no responsibility. I couldn’t thank them both enough. When Michael moved to Wellington permanently I stepped back (although I had never really gone away).
I have many other things I want to do and several alarming birthdays rushing in every year have made me realise I could free myself up and pursue other (modest) aspirations.
It has all been such fun. I have loved all the regular, and new, ‘open micers’, and I am a groupie as far as all our guest poets are concerned. Such abundance of talent and generosity – thank you all without exception.
But don’t forget to take any/every chance you can to meet in groups/poetry – locally, each others’ homes, cafes, public library etc. After all, none of us is going to give poetry up and we do always want to support poetry/writing/arts in the Kapiti area.
Please know that I thank all of you, the audience, the ones who share their poems, and the faithful and dear friends who come along and help month after month. Remembering with thanks too, Carolyn Weston who published our first ‘Poets to the People’ anthology, Sonya who has publicised us regularly on Facebook, and especially Elizabeth who has been such a loyal support and helpmate .
This has been a unique opportunity for me to get to know poets and enjoy their poetry, to meet less known writers who share their poems, and café owners and staff who have been so generous. We continued to be debt-free all these years and were always able to have enough money every month to pay our guest poet. Phew!
We will all miss each other. Aroha nui.
Gill and Elizabeth