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About Us

JAFA Poetry Slam is currently run by acclaimed and award-winning poets, writers and performers.

Our board currently includes:

  • Carrie Rudzinski (she/her) is a poet and published author who has performed her work for 17 years in six countries. Ranked 4th in the world at the 2014 Women of the World Poetry Slam, she has authored six poetry collections, five spoken word albums, and been featured in Bustle, HuffPost and Teen Vogue.

  • Ken Arkind (he/him) is an American National Poetry Slam Champion, Tedx Speaker and Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam Champion who has performed his work in 49 States, 6 countries and at over 200 colleges and universities. He works for Action Education, organising and hosting WORD The Frontline, New Zealand's only youth poetry slam.

  • Jessie Fenton (she/her) is a New Zealand National Poetry Slam runner-up twice over, Poetry Idol winner, and Word: the Front Line coach. She has previously been published in "Starling" and Otago University's "Manifesto." 

  • Eric Soakai (him/they) is the 2019 New Zealand Poetry Slam National Champion and attended the 2020 Indigenous Artist Residency in Canada. A fixture in the Auckland poetry scene, he is a Word The Front Line coach and has represented Auckland at the National Poetry Slam twice.

  • Dan Goodwin (they/them) is a Scottish-Pākeha performance poet, actor and writer. In 2016, they completed their Masters of Text and Performance at RADA in the UK before returning to Aotearoa. Their solo show Breathe toured the UK after winning the Harold and Jean Brooks award, before also touring Aotearoa as a remounted ensemble work. They are the 2021 NZ Poetry Slam Champion.

  • Shania Pablo (they/them) is an Art History Honours student by day and a spoken word poet once every four months. They are passionate about storytelling and providing a safe space for the arts to flourish. They are an alumni of and have since become a regular coach for Word The Frontline, mentoring the next generation of poets.

  • Sarah Krieg (she/her) aka Sazzok is a poet, podcaster and educator from Tāmaki Makaurau. On the mic, she explores issues around sex, queerness and capitalism, as well as all the strange and beautiful ways love might survive this hellscape. She’s read her poems in different nooks  and crannies across the city, and is a regular at the JAFA slam. When she’s not performing, she hosts “Poetry Snaps”, a podcast about Auckland’s thriving poetry scene.

  • Marcus Mackenzie (he/him) is a performance poet born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau. He has represented Auckland twice at the NZ National Poetry slam Finals, and has performed across Aotearoa. His poetry is forthcoming in AUP’s Aotearoa Performance Poetry Anthology. His work is varied, but has a proclivity to all things rainbow and is a sucker for finding meaning in the little things.

We aim to: 

  • Provide a safe space for writers to share their work

  • Encourage writers to gain confidence and skill in performing their work 

  • Give our slammers the opportunity to gain national recognition at the NZ National Poetry Slam 

  • Create a thriving community for both participants and supporters of  poetry 

FAQs and Rules

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of common questions and answers about JAFA events. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, get in touch!

When does JAFA happen?

We run 6 - 8 events a year on the 4th Wednesday of the month. These events normally occur at Cityside Baptist Church in Mount Eden. Events typically start at 7pm and run around 2.5 hours.

How much does it cost and why do you charge money?

It costs $5 for students or competing poets. $10 for general admission. You can either pay cash on the door or purchase a pre-sale ticket online. 

We charge a cover because we believe poetry is worth paying for. Money raised from door sales goes towards the producing costs of running our events and sending our representatives to the National Poetry Slam. 

How do I sign up? What are the rules?

All open mic readers sign up on the door before the event starts. For most of our slams, readers sign up on the door before the event starts. There are special events where you need to pre-register or qualify to compete (pre-registrations include all team or duo slams, like Super Duper Boom Boom Fight Night Slam). You can always email us to ask!

We follow standard poetry slam rules:

  • You have 3 minutes and 10 seconds to read your poem

  • No props, costumes, or music

  • Original work only 

  • You cannot repeat a poem from the first round to the second or third round 

  • Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT need to memorise your work to participate but it is encouraged 

What if I don't want to compete in the slam?

You can still share your work on our open mic if you don't want or aren't ready to compete in the slam. We have a short open mic at the start of our events. We also have a sacrificial poet at the start of each slam - this is a great chance to try out slamming without competing in the slam. 

If you just want to watch, we also need judges for each slam to happen! Judges can work in teams or judge on their own - assigning numbers to the poems in the slam and ultimately deciding the winner.

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