Outspoken words: alchemy spoken word poetry at the Black Sheep


For some months ARTbop has organised a monthly gathering at the Black Sheep Whakamarama on the second Thursday of each month 6pm to 8pm for “poets” to speak their own words or read the words of their favourite published poet.

Several Whakamarama residents have come along to share words written by them or to read words that hold special meaning for them.  

At home with John Adams, Don’t Judge Me and friends



We’ve been privileged to have the company of Tauranga slam poet and alternative creative Dhaivat Mehta, ARTbop’s Literary Editor Marcus Hobson and Auckland poet John Adams.

Tauranga slam poet and alternative spoken word poet Dhaivat Mehta at alchemy, the Black Sheep, Whakamarama

ARTbop Editor, author, book reviewer at the Black Sheep with a pile of poetry books for alchemy earlier this year










Dhaivat has established  Incantation as an overarching poetry consortium for the Bay of Plenty. Under that umbrella we’ve called ourselves alchemy: words transform themselves and the people who hear them.

Last time I went to alchemy at the Black Sheep I read from a selection of poetry books while I ate a magical lamb shanks dinner.   I read the poetry of Dr Seuss; the poetry of T.S. Eliot; Georgian poetry from what must have been an old textbook!Words – whether you call it poetry, hip hop, slam, song – allow us to express issues and feelings in a unique way.   Much of my own poetry relates to personal experience. I have poems which reflect the beauty and environment of the Kaimai and Whakamarama. I have a series prompted by my work in domestic violence.   But my poems are fictions.

I collect and hold images, events, people and places but my alchemy makes them into something new, something they never were. I have never seen the Kingitanga in Manurewa but I was part of the crowd standing on Cameron Road waiting for Waikato to arrive at the commemoration of the conflict at Pukehinahina-Gate Pa in Tauranga. A convoy of large shiny black tinted vehicles drew up. A tall, solid man in a camel-coloured coat and shiny black shoes got out…..the image went straight into my memory to reappear in “There is no snow in South Auckland”.

I wrote “The fat one has a yellow hat” after the community protest at the Wairoa Bridge about the dangerous conditions of SH2-Tauranga West Road.   I wrote down three potential titles for this poem – something I’ve never done before – “Who won’t live to Christmas?”, “The Rook Road” and “The fat one has a yellow hat”. A very long time ago I was driving in rural England and hit a large, black rook sitting in the middle of the roadway. In my memory bank is the unique and specific noise a rook makes when you hit it. Somewhere, sometime, un-pc me, has had to wait on a road construction until a fat man in a yellow hat has allowed me to bump and slide over too large stones.

I generally do not spend hours and hours writing a poem; it starts in my head, gathers momentum and insists on being written down.   I do occasionally revise – most recently for a National Poetry Day competition of “given words”. It was only after I’d written my first poem I noticed the rule that it could only be 200 words.   So I wrote another poem and then I had to edit it down and down.

I’m sharing the first poem I wrote with the given words after listening to some middle-class, affluent, well-meaning politician banging on about the “affordable housing” being built around Auckland.   It isn’t at all affordable for ordinary people earning low-level New Zealand wages. And it’s definitely not affordable for old single women with a history of mental illness – a representative fiction.

The competition words were: snow, window, decrepit, nest, cast.

There is no snow in South Auckland

She can feel their animosity and disgust

as it seeps out of the dark tinted window of

the Remuera-black SUV

She wonders how it comes to be sitting so still

in the middle of the Manurewa shops – another

motorway pile up or the Kingitanga on the move?


She repositions her backpack – too big and

heavy now for the old woman that she is and

continues slowly past the dollar shops their plastic

bright windows spilling out towards last night’s benches.

She no longer notices the dirt and the rubbish

she needs another place to sleep.


Last night she’d huddled in her temporary nest

under the decrepit back stairs of the house

opposite the cop shop – better than the Plunket deck –

no one could see her there and despite the careless cold she’d slept.

She’d slept secure that tonight she was unseen and

the big rubbish bin cut out the wind.


The thin and wrinkled face of the old currymuncher

woke her. She has difficulty associating the

Kiwi voice and the well cut hair with his curry-brown

skin.   She can tell he’s frightened by her presence and

then he’s angry that she dares breathe his privately owned air.

He shouts her out as if chasing next door’s cat or dog

away from his hydrangeas.


With historic speed the Warehouse-blue tarpaulin is cast off.

She hurriedly rolls her bedding and shuffles up the drive leaving

the persistent mutterer and complainer to remove her cardboard bedbase.

The urge to pee overwhelms her – shame the curry caught her

before she had time to explore the space behind the big garage.

Not allowed in Macid’s – it’s her smell they say puts the customers off their food.


She’s been trespassed from the shopping centre – not her fault she

forgot to take those palangi-pakeha pills. The Library doesn’t let

you sleep and you cannot sit upright with your eyes closed – they yell

into your face until you leave.


Methodical and rhythmically shuffling down the Great South Road she goes towards

the cold twilight of the park to out wait another day remembering

the Aitutaki-blue bright skies, the rockhard soil of Karaka, the shouting and laughter of Otara teamwork

as they pull and clip uniforms and school shoes.


Most of all she remembers the penetrating smell of onions on your skins

as you lie together sleeping under the fence’s quiet and forgiving wall.


She knows – there is no snow in South Auckland.

Rosemary Balu August 2018


Yesterday I got one of those pastel, blah, blah emails from the Associate Minister of the Crown currently responsible for the SH2 issue – it’s only made this poem more real for me.

The fat one has a yellow hat

They pretend to listen.

Draft plans and publish pamphlets.

Hold meetings and consult but they cannot lower the death

inducing speed limit.They pretend to hear us when we gather and with antipodean

protest politeness express our fear and concern.   The media

mention the noise and outrage.   Minimal compared to tractor-firing

farmers of France.

It’s not even the death we fear – it’s the abyss of injury some will

never come back from. An edge that will immobilise, traumatize,

destroy their relationships and life – do you hear? do you care?

Who won’t live to Christmas?

Whose child will feel a shaft of grief?

It won’t be Wellington-living you.

Rosemary Balu September 2018

It was our Literary Editor Marcus Hobson who alerted me to the “given words” competition.   So I entered – but it turns out there was more than one “give words competition” for National Poetry Day 2018 – here’s Marcus’ article and poem from the competition he entered.  Me – I never heard from my competition again!!!!

Competitive words: a poem from Marcus Hobson

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as     the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

ARTbop promotes

(or we think you should check this out!)


            ARTbop is promoting poetry in the Western Bay of Plenty




Join us every second Thursday of the month,

6.00pm to 8.30pm

Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet.   Enjoy the power of the spoken word!

Phone:   07 571 8722   021 145 5810

And the poetry of Cats…

Remember the poetry of childhood








Mad Dogs and an Englishman – Nick Eggleston Exhibition – 5 October – 24 October 2018


Mad Dogs and an Englishman - Nick Eggleston Exhibition - 5 October - 24 October 2018


When: 5 October – 24 October 2018

Where: The Incubator Creative Hub, Historic Village 17th Avenue, Tauranga, New Zealand

Nick Eggleston is fast becoming known as the tattooed dog artist. Exhibiting and selling his exceptionally detailed watercolours from Auckland to Invercargill, Nick is represented in many dealer galleries and has work in private collections throughout the world.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Nick is currently based in Tauranga after relocating to New Zealand in 2006, and is a resident artist at The Incubator Studios.

Nick graduated from the Chesterfield College of Art and Design with a distinction in Ceramics and holds a membership to The Society of Designer Craftsmen. The skills he has brought with him to New Zealand have been eagerly received by students for his hugely popular beginners to expert drawing, watercolour and ceramic classes.

Alongside a typically busy schedule of commissions and teaching Nick has teamed up with two other Incubator studio residents to open the Imprint Gallery, also located in the Historic Village. You will find him most days sitting at his desk creating his latest pair of bespoke shoes, alongside the gallery’s eclectic mix of original prints, paintings, jewellery and clothing.

This is Nick’s first major solo show in his chosen home-town of Tauranga, and will be a culmination of a year’s worth of new painting and 3D work. (originally published by Creative Bay of Plenty, Tauranga).

 ARTbop recommendation:  Eggleston’s work is beautifully executed and painterly but his subjects are contemporary, darkly whimsical and thoughtful.   When you’ve been to see his solo exhibition at the Incubator make a point of going round to Imprint Gallery – if Nick’s not in attendance at the Incubator he’s often “in charge” of this co-operative venture.   Going to republish an image of Nick’s contribution to the recent Steampunk exhibition – again superbly crafted and darkly whimsical!

The care and detailing on this work is amazing



The next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair will be on the last Sunday of October (the 28th).   The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Cafe & Restaurant complex on the last Sunday of every month 11am to 3pm.  There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee.  There’s live music. There’s an event prize you can win.   If you would like to join us as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity or artisan products you can contact us at aaafair17@gmail.com1!

We are sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road.  You won’t be able to miss us! We’re indoors over winter months and outside in the Summer


                the Bay of Plenty’s creative arts magazine!

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