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Reviewed by Chris Reed
Opening sentence
I knew I shouldn’t read the comments, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of me.
'Rapture: An Anthology of Performance Poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand' transcends the limitations of traditional poetry, capturing the essence of a vibrant and rebellious literary movement. The anthology, skillfully curated by editors Carrie Rudzinski and Grace Iwashita-Taylor, features 90 poets from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the rich tapestry of voices in Aotearoa.

The collection challenges the misconception that performance poetry is confined to slam competitions, showcasing the evolution of a genre that has deep roots in human expression. The anthology explores themes ranging from sharp social commentary to tender vulnerability, providing a wide-angle panorama of the past decade's performance poetry scene. The juxtaposition of powerful spoken performances and their printed counterparts offers a deeper understanding of the poetic craft.

While some may argue that the impact of performance poetry lies in the live delivery, 'Rapture' demonstrates that these works translate remarkably well to the page. The anthology not only celebrates the rebellious and confrontational nature of performance poetry but also delves into contemplative narratives, adding layers of complexity to the collection.

The voices within 'Rapture' resonate with defiance, addressing issues of identity, injustice, sexuality, and diversity. The poets, unbound by propriety, confront societal norms and celebrate the multifaceted nature of the human experience. The anthology serves as a testament to the thriving grassroots creative movement in Aotearoa, where performance poetry has become a powerful vehicle for reclaiming language, decolonizing narratives, and fostering a sense of community.

With its broad spectrum of voices and thematic organisation, 'Rapture' invites readers to engage with the rebellious spirit of contemporary performance poetry. The anthology stands as a vibrant snapshot, capturing the intense and electric energy that emanates from marae to metropolitan streets, heralding a literary renaissance in Aotearoa.
Publisher: Auckland University Press
ISBN: 9781869409807
Format: Hardback
Publication: November 2023
Ages: 14+ years