The Mic is Yours

Dominic Hoey
Musicians at Inside Out
Poet, Ria Masae
Poet and Winner of the 2015 NZ Slam, Mohamed Hassan
Dominic Hoey’s wise words for poets and writers of all styles - and where they can jump on stage to get those pesky words out of their heads.


Regular TBI contributor Dominic Hoey knows a thing or two about the spoken word.

He’s released five critically acclaimed studio albums, two books of poetry, four short films and a best-selling novel, which was longlisted for an Ockham book award. Not to mention a being battle MC and slam-poetry champion with stage experience across New Zealand, Australia, Europe, England, Japan and America.

Dominic has some advice for those who write and those who want to perform - and the best places to get your feet wet.

For budding writers and performers, getting some stage time under your belt is an important part of developing your style. Even if you plan on writing 1000 page historically accurate novels, you’ll still be expected to get up and talk about your work at some point. So better to get those first few embarrassing performances out of the way, while no one knows who you are. Once you get past feeling like you’re going to vomit from nerves, it’s actually quite fun.

This week I’m going to run through four events where you can jump up and read that poem about your cat (which is actually a metaphor for the ills of capitalism) or a chapter from your novel about the seedy underbelly of Parnell.

Poetry Live

Poetry Live is the oldest running open mic in Auckland. The weekly event turns 40 this year and is currently held at The Thirsty Dog up on K’ Road. Poetry live was where I first read some awful poetry when I was 17, back when it was held in St Kevins Arcade. I remember my hands shaking so bad I had to put them in my pockets.

The nights vary in quality; you might see Albert Wendt reading his latest work, or that guy who’s been doing the same three poems for a decade. But there's a charm to the loose feel of the event, and that makes it the perfect place to try new work, even get on stage for the first time.

Every event features a guest poet and musician. Bring koha for the artists and get there early to sign up as the open mic usually fills up.

The Thirsty Dog, 469 Karangahape Road, 8PM every Tuesday


Musicians at Inside Out 

Inside Out Open Mic

The Inside Out Open Mic is open to prose writers, as well as poets and musicians. There’s still a six minute time limit so you won’t be able to read your entire novella (please don’t be that person) but it’s a great opportunity to see how people respond to your work. And there’s nothing like reading your words out loud to hear where your voice is working. 

It kicks off at 7PM on the second Wednesday of every month, up at Cafe One2One on Ponsonby Road. Again there’s a sign up sheet when you arrive and bring koha for the artists.

Cafe One2One, 121 Ponsonby Road, 7PM, second Wednesday of every month


Poet, Ria Masae

Stand Up Poetry

Another monthly event is Stand Up Poetry (SUP), which happens around the city in various libraries and community centres. SUP events are all ages, meaning younger poets have a chance to perform in a supportive and safe space. SUP is run by Action Education, a community organisation who do amazing work, using poetry to connect with rangatahi from all walks of life.

Each event has a featured poet, and over the years they’ve hosted a who’s who of New Zealand performance poets including Grace Taylor, Ria Masae and Mohamed Hassan. They also hold poetry slams if you feel like testing your skills against other poets. Follow their Facebook page to keep up to date with upcoming events. 


Poet and Winner of the 2015 NZ Slam, Mohamed Hassan


Speaking of slams,the JAFA slam pits up and coming poetry talent against one another on the fourth Wednesday of every month. It's all in the name of friendly competition but they also hold the qualifiers for the New Zealand Slam. Past winners have traveled to the states to compete against the top spoken word artists in the world.

Like SUP, these events are all ages and move location each month, so like their Facebook page to make sure you hear about the next event.



Written by

Dominic Hoey

6 Mar 2020

Dominic Hoey is an author, playwright and poet based in Tāmaki Makaurau. His debut novel, Iceland was a New Zealand bestseller and was long-listed for the 2018 Ockham Book Award.

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