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Source: Auckland Council

“Rough Lives Speak”, a collection of poetry by members of Auckland’s rough sleeping community launches tonight to the delight of those who have been involved.

Daren Kamali, Auckland Council’s Pacific Heritage Advisor, and founder of S.P.A.C.E. (Street Poets and Artists Collective Enterprise) says it is fantastic to get to this moment.

“It was so exciting to get the collection of poems published and to now share it with the community is such a joyful moment for me.”

He says that the book is more than poetry.

“This book isn’t just a collection of stories. It represents the mana and dignity of the people who have shared them with us.”

The poems touch on themes of suicide, mental health, wellbeing, incarceration, domestic violence, homelessness, addictions, and loneliness.

Wilf Holt of Auckland City Mission -Te Tāpui Atawhai says that the book represents so much for those whose stories are within the pages.

“It is more than words on a page. This process has been healing for many of the people involved as they have discovered, or rediscovered, their poetry talent and had a platform to tell their stories. It has been wonderful watching them commit to the classes, work hard on their poetry, and bond with each other.”

The poetry workshops started in March 2021 and, apart from stopping during the Covid lockdown, have regularly taken place either at Auckland City Mission facilities or at St Matthew-in-the-City church.

The book has been co-edited by New Zealand Poet Laureate David Eggleton and has a back cover blurb by former Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh. Both visited the workshops to share stories and poems with the SPACE members and work with the street poets.

As well as the book launch, an exhibition of SPACE artist Filipo Tu’u will be on display.

A talented artist who works with cardboard, wooden board, pencil, pen and paint, Filipo produced a portrait series of the poets involved in SPACE.

The book will be available to borrow from Auckland Council Libraries, both as a physical copy and as an e-book.

Filipo’s artwork will be on display alongside a selection of poems on large posters at the City Central Library until 24 August.