Posts by Michael Botur

NZ writer

Northlanders at November’s inaugural NZ Poetry Conference + Festival

Northlanders will be at next month’s inaugural NZ Poetry Conference + Festival in Auckland NZ Poetry Conference & Festival

– Piet Nieuwland at the conference, with Dr Renee Liang
– Five Whangarei poets known as the Poetry Posse slamming it at Dirty Wordz Friday November 10

Here’s the complete schedule:

Poetry Posse


DIRTY WORDZ SESSIONZ – Friday November 10
A variety show/ poetry&music collaboration crammed full of local and travelling poets mixed with wordcore musicians.

Performances by the Poetry Posse of Te Tai Tokerau (Nga-Atawhainga Manukau, Michael Botur, Vivian Thonger, Brett Ruys, Vincent Nathan)

…as well as Dubtext (Lawrence Brock, Robert Popovic, Rob Mayo, Peter Larsen), Otis Mace, Harry the Dead Poet, Jeremy Roberts & more.
when: 8 00 – 11 00
where: The Dog’s Bollix, 2 Newton Rd ( just off Karangahape Rd)
directions:The Dog’s Bollix is by the intersection of Karangahape Rd, Great North Rd, Ponsonby Rd and Newton Rd.
From the Ellen Melville Hall, it’s about 10 minutes by car via Hopetoun St or Symonds St, or a 30 minute walk up Queen Street and along Karangahape Rd. If driving, allow time for parking near the venue.

Friday 10 November
The Conference in the Ellen Melville Centre ends for the day at 7 00pm.
book launch
Otago University Press invites you to celebrate the launch of SURRENDER -a new collection of poetry by Janet Charman. The author of many books of poetry, including At the White Coast (2012) and the award-winning Cold Snack (2007), Janet is one of New Zealand’s sharpest and most subversive writers.
when: 7 15 – 7 45pm
where: The Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, Central City
refreshments available
please RSVP to:

The South Auckland Poets’ Collective are a group of artists who are passionate about poetry and the community.One of SAPC’s values is to use spoken word poetry as a tool for positive social change with a focus on young people. Ken Arkind with line-up t.b.a.
when: 8 00 – 10 00pm
where: The Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, Central City
***more details to follow

Saturday 11 November
The Conference in the Ellen Melville Centre ends for the day at 6 00pm.

Write a poem, make a small book for your writing, then read word aloud. Learn fun voice warm-ups. Raewyn Alexander has taken arts workshops for decades. Easy, engaging and productive.
when: 7 00 – 9 00pm
where: The Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, Central City
cost: $30. Materials & tools provided, but bring a craft knife if you have one.
To book email Raewyn:

Immerse yourself in collaborations between the moving picture and poetry. See film/poetry creations from Lisa Samuels, Simone Kaho, Genevieve McClean, Kate Kelly, Miliama Tamiano, RikTheMost & more t.b.a.
Plus, hear new work from some of Poetry Live!’s popular poetry exponents Ken Arkind, Jamie Trower, Sophie Procter, Matt Harvey, Rachael Naomi and Bryony Jagger.
when:7 00 – 10 00pm
where: The Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, Central City
***more details to follow

Shaky Places is the signature concert of the Conference & Festival.It features song and music merged with poems of Aotearoa by Sam Hunt, Riemke Ensing, Bill Manhire, Robert Sullivan, Jenny Bornholdt, Gregory O’Brien, Marewa Glover, Bub Bridger, Lauris Edmond, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Dinah Hawken, Brian Turner & Rachel McAlpine.
Music by Felicia Edgecombe; poetry editor Rachel McAlpine; with the Auckland Youth Choir ( conductor Lachlan Craig). MC and reader Peter Elliott.
when: 7 30 – 9 30pm ( arrive from 7 00pm)
where: St Matthew-in-the-City, 187 Federal St, Central City
cost: concession & conference attendees $25; adult $28. Book at :
refreshments available
directions:St Matthews is 800 metres from the Ellen Melville Centre. It is an 8 minute stroll up High St, onto Victoria St East then Federal Street.

Sunday 12 November
The Conference in the Ellen Melville Centre ends for the day at 1 00pm.

book launch
Hawke’s Bay poet Valentina Teclici has edited and translated a bilingual (English-Romanian) collection of poems Poetical Bridges -Poduri Lirice (Scripta manent 2016) comprising twelve poets from Aotearoa and twelve poets of Romanian origin. Reading with Valentina are fellow contributors Alexandra Balm (Auck), Bill Sutton (Napier) and Mere Taito (Hamilton).
when: 1 15 – 1 45pm
where: the Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, Central City
free walk-in; refreshments

The NZ Poetry Society Competition Anthology collects the best poems and haiku from the thousands entered into the annual international poetry competition. Includes readings by entrants and place-getters.
when: 2 00 – 4 00pm
where: The Auckland Central Library, level 2 Whare Wananga
free walk-in; refreshments available
directions: The Central Library is 450 metres from the Ellen Melville Centre. It’s a 5 minute walk up High St and Lorne St.

To many, the voices of queer poets, writers and singers are as unsettling as a whirlwind, immersing them in uncomfortable and unfamiliar emotions.Being unsettled is part of the creative process, however, stirring up new thoughts which lead to new understandings and eventually, acceptance. So, the Whirlwind is an apt metaphor for the Queer Voice.
As part of the Poetry Conference and Festival, five queer poets invite you to be unsettled at their free session: Cole Meyer, Verity George, Whaitiri Makaere, Gina Cole and Sandi Hall.
when: 3 00 – 4 00pm
where: One2One Cafe, 121 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
free walk-in; refreshments available
directions: From the Ellen Melville Centre, One2One Cafe is 3km or about 10 minutes by car via Hobson St and Hopetoun St.If driving, allow time for street parking near the cafe.

The Grand Finale of the NZ Poetry Conference & Festival, The Literatti presents One Night in Shanghai, an immersive journey amongst the opulent surroundings of Shanghai Lil’s. Transport yourself to a time of sensuality, featuring pioneering theatre/poetry/music troupe The Literatti, reforming for this one-off extraordinary show. With Miriam Barr, Daniel Larsen, Christian Jensen, Andra Jenkin, Sally Legg & Murray Haddow. Also appearing is “Him”, a mad-shaped curation by Australian artist Jasmine Rose, who draws upon elements of the visionary to create stunning experimental work.
The evening will be woven together by NZ’s premier word-core band Freaky Meat ( Shane Hollands, John McNab, Rod Redgrave, Julian Pettitt) combining elements of jazz/funk & rock with vocal styles inspired by Jack Kerouac, Tom Waits and Capt Beefheart.
when: 8 00 – 11 00pm
where: Shanghai Lil’s Jazz & Cocktail Lounge, 335 Karangahape Rd, Newton
tickets: details to follow
directions:From the Ellen Melville Centre, Shanghai Lil’s is about 10 minutes by car. Allow time for parking. If walking, it’s about 24 minutes on foot, up Queen Street then turning right into Karangahape Rd.

More festival events to be advised as they are shored up…
With poets who respond to the artistic nature of letters, words and symbols of language in their choice of art medium: Maddy O’Dwyer, Miriam Barr, Sophie Procter, Makyla Curtis, Tony Green and Rachael Naomi.
when: t.b.a.
where: the Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, Central City
Details to follow…

I hope this helps with your planning for the weekend.. In a later update we will have a map for you showing exactly where the venues and places of interest are, including Britomart (Auckland’s main bus and train Transport hub, which is an easy walk), points of interest like the nearby Jason’s Bookstore, Unity Books, Aotea Centre, close-by parking buildings (and their rates), Auckland Art Gallery and the Central Library.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all there, at some or other of the Festival events .
Next update will have more about the daytime Conference, and some Festival updates.

kia ora from your NZPC & F organising team

Anita, Shane, Rachael & Bronwen

PS:Remember, check out the website for updates as we lead up to the Con/Fest weekend 10-12 November:;;
And here’s the Con/Fest facebook page too:


Pretty choice news from Northland writers

zana bell image

September 2017 Members’ Announcements – from Northland Authors, the Tai Tokerau branch of NZ Society of Authors

  • Zana Bell completed her PhD in Creative Writing through AUT University, focusing on Zimbabwe/Rhodesia and issues of race, feminism and colonisation. The thesis was accompanied by a novel called Finding Billy. Check out Zana’s impressive website.
  • Barbara Unković completed her Master of Creative Writing from Auckland University with honours.
  • Karen Phillips has received a preprint copy of her short story collection, A Question of Blood.
  • Justine Payen has been sent a preprint copy of All Dressed Up, a reader for six-to-eight-year-old children published by Wendy Pye.
  • Piet Nieuwland has had more success with his poetry: ‘Koru Kangaroo’ appears inForty Years of Titirangi Poets, edited by Ron Riddell and launched at Going West Festival Auckland 2017.  His poem ‘Crossing Crossings’ appears in Truth Serum Vol.2 WISER 2017 (Adelaide, Australia). Several of his poems and flash fiction have been accepted for issues of OtolithsCordite and Bonsai Fiction, to be published later in 2017 or 2018.

21st Anniversary of Northland Branch

The Northland Branch 21st Anniversary will be held on Saturday 2 December 2017 at The Orchard in Whangarei. It will be a catered lunch and registration forms will be going out to members soon. Please contact Di if you have any old photographs of branch activities to share.


Poetry Events

  • Poets at TahiTahiOno will be held at 116 Bank Street, Whangarei, on Thursday 19 October, at 5pm. Gold coin door entry.
  • Dirty Word open mic will be held at the Old Stone Butter Factory, Whangarei, on Wednesday 11 October, at 7pm.

Hokianga Film Festival 20–23 October

The Hokianga Film Festival will be held in Rawene from 20-23 October. Full details are available here.

NZ Book Week 23–29 October 2017

This year the Proctor Library in Kerikeri will once again focus on Northland authors for New Zealand Book Week. There will be a display of local authors and their books in the foyer.

You can use this link to check whether your book is in the FNDC library system. If you aren’t on the list, you can search the library catalogue. If you are in the catalogue but not on the Northland list, contact Kathy and she will pass your name on to the librarian. If members’ books aren’t in the catalogue, they should contact their publisher or distributor to ask if the FNDC Library has been approached with their books.

To celebrate New Zealand Book Week, the Proctor Library is hosting a talk by Alison Jones, author of Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds, on Thursday 26th October at 11am.


Takahē Short Story Competition 2017

This year the Takahē short story competition will be judged by Eileen Merriman. Maximum length for each story submitted is 2,500 words and entries must be submitted no later than Thursday 30th November 2017. The results and the winning story will be published in Takahē 92 (April 2018), and all entries will considered for publication. To find out more, visit the website:

NZ Poetry Society Conference and Festival 10-12 November

The NZ Poetry Society is holding a conference and festival from Friday 10 November to Sunday 12 November in Auckland. Full details here.

Competitions and Awards for Writers

For information on other competitions and awards please use NZSA’s Death by Deadline on the members-only page of the NZSA website.

Pride, panic and publishers wanting payment – Mike’s crowdfunding crisatunity

Mike reading at WHG public library 2 cropped

nb. An abridged version of this story appears in The Spinoff.


Update October 9 – Mākaro Press publisher Mary McCallum repeatedly phoned me when I was having dinner with my whanau tonight and demanded I change the title of this story.

I hold a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism Studies and have worked as a journalist since the end of 2013. It is against the ethics of journalism to bow to bullying. However, a good journalist will occasionally let things slide to keep upset people happy.

After some reflection, I went ahead and made Mary’s suggested change. I also suggested to Mary that normal professional publishers correspond by email or post…


Pride, panic and publishers wanting payment – Mike’s crowdfunding crisatunity

by Michael Botur


Here’s the story of my crowdfunding rollercoaster from impostor syndrome to impresario…

Moneyland is a YA dystopian sci-fi novel about having the food supply interrupted and having to live off the land in suburbia. The first youngsters to have read the manuscript were impressed. The book is thrilling and it has messages about sustainability and food scarcity. Still, in early 2017, Moneylandsat unread or rejected in the slush piles of publishers around the world. Mākaro Press said after I had paid $172.50 for  the assessment of a manuscript reader (whose phone number and email address they wouldn’t provide) I might be eligible – if chosen for publication- for the following deal. They don’t like to call it hybrid publishing or vanity publishing. In the words of Mākaro Press:

“For our children’s books we publish them under our Submarine imprint (our author contribution imprint) and ask the author to pay for the cost of the print run – s/he takes most of the net returns as a result rather than the usual 10%. We print 500, which is around $3,500.”

Pretty average deal, in my opinion.

From January to July I despaired over publishers’ rejections. Then I started thinking about Hinemoana Baker’s Boosted campaign, and Dominic Hoey’s, and James Mahoney’s. I applied to run my own campaign. Boosted rang me up to talk it over. I interpreted the phone call as dare, like “Mike, do you REALLY believe in yourself?”

I supposed so. Maybe? Sorta. I took a deep breath, and a Lorazepam, and on August 15 we rolled out a 45 day campaign to raise $3000 to print some demos of the book and create a buzz around it.

Boosted suggested Dominic ‘Tourettes’ Hoey be my mentor for Moneyland. It was a great match – I’ve looked up to Dom for ten years. Moneyland launched… then crashed immediately. Two weeks into the project, I took a holiday on remote Great Barrier Island and switched off my cellphone for seven days. Before I left, I sent a Mailchimp letter to 70 people. It took hours to compose that letter. I’d shaken the tree 70 times – surely some donations were going to fall out?

A week later, I switched my phone on, convinced a tumult of donation emails would be waiting for me.

There was not a single new donation.

I was 33 percent of the way into the campaign and I’d raised just 5 percent of what I needed. I got stress migraines. I kept waking up at 3am. I went to work exhausted. I looked for a way out. I asked if I could lessen the amount I was seeking to raise. The answer was no. The whole thing was going to fail. I’d failed myself. Legendary NZ author Alan Duff responded AFTER I’d sent out my Mailchimp letter with four words of wisdom: “Resend with smaller font.”

Cheers for that, Duffy. Really helpful.

I begged a friend in public relations to help me find a corporate sponsor. A local millionaire with an interest in sustainability said he had nothing to spare. I pitied myself for a couple of days, got over it then resolved to do everything Matua Dom advised. He shared his own experience crowdfunding to get Icelandwritten. Dom told me 70 wasn’t enough people to ask. “In general 3-6 percent of people give so you need to really pull out all the stops,” he said.

Thanks, Tourettes, I thought. You could’ve told me that at the start, then I could have stayed in my shell, resenting the writing world.

I parked my self-pity and went back to Dom’s advice. You have to approach people 2 or 3 times and keep creating fresh content and news to keep going back to them with, he told me, so I spent four hours messaging people on Facebook I hadn’t spoken to in years, asking for their email addresses, buttering them up before the cringe-inducing spammy email demand for money.

I swallowed my pride. I did interviews in paper and radio. I stayed up late designing shitty handouts. I spoke to poetry crowds who didn’t care. I performed at Whangarei Library to a crowd of five. 40 percent of people in the library audience were my children; 20 percent were my wife. I did a second mailout. My best friends each put in a hundred bucks. The despair dried up. On a Thursday (Payday? Dole day?) the heavens aligned and my phone kept beeping with fresh donation messages as I drove home. I pulled over and emailed each donor my heartfelt thanks immediately. A petrol station owner from Maungatapere slipped me a hundy and wrote, “I can’t wait to see it published.”


Boosted is all about self-confidence. Identify exactly why your project is good for your artistic community, then go for it. Believe that the people you love will be there for you. Then apply at… and trust in Tourettes.




Competition from Dargaville author J B Reynolds

A message from Dargaville author J B Reynolds:

My new short story, “What Friends Are For”, is launching next Monday, October 9th. That’s exciting, but even more exciting is that it’s available for pre-order right now! And to celebrate, I’m running a little giveaway.

Here’s the deal: If you pick up a copy of the ebook for 99c ($1.14 NZ) this week, before launch day, and email a copy of your receipt to before Tuesday 10th October, you’ll go into the draw for a lovely bottle of Chard Farm 2014 Central Otago Pinot Noir, as well as a delicious block of Whittaker’s Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Spice dark chocolate. South and north, wine and chocolate – what could be better than that?

Here’s the link to purchase:

This giveaway is only running up until launch day on Monday 9th, so make sure you get in quick.

Last of all – a sincere THANK YOU for all the support from Writers Up North members. It really means a lot to me.

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Fresh poetry from Northland’s Briar Wood

Briar Wood is an internationally published poet and is an experienced creative writing teacher. She tutors Poetry and Cultural Studies at NorthTec. briar wood picture larger

Her poem Kuramārōtini is published on The Spinoff this week. In Maori mythology, Kuramārōtini is the wife of Hoturapa, with whom Kupe once went fishing in Hawaiki.

You can find some of Briar’s recorded work online at The Poetry Archive. Here’s the link ([0]=sm_field_poet%3Anode%3A192628 )

Briar’s debut poetry collection,  Rāwāhi, is to be published by Anahera Press in October. Rāwāhi is a radiant work where sky-borne sealines are inspired by earthly encounters, Anahera says. Rāwāhi will be produced with a gorgeous front cover image by artist Reuben Paterson.



Northland writer crowdfunds young adult novel

creative northland news image

A Whangarei writer is trialling crowdfunding to get a young adult novel published independently.

Author Michael Botur launched a Boosted campaign for the sci-fi dystopian thriller ‘Moneyland’ on August 15 to raise a target of $3000 to print copies of the book which will ideally be sold and read firstly in Northland, then promoted nationwide. Botur said it is hoped the fanbase and following generated by the Boosted fundraising campaign can pique the interest of a conventional publisher.

Boosted is a platform from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand which operates on a donations-only model instead of pledges. The Arts Foundation says Boosted exists “To remove every possible barrier between artists and backers.”

Botur said the money raised from the Boosted crowdfunding campaign will be spent on printing copies of the book – which has already been written – ideally using a Whangarei publisher to keep the printing work local and high quality.

Botur said ‘Moneyland’ is aimed at readers Year 12 and up (readers 16-25.)

The plot:

It’s 2037. Humans worldwide are losing their jobs to artificial intelligence. People will do anything to survive, to keep their jobs, their homes, their mana, including a 17 year old Eden, who agrees to spend a year inside a biodome experiment with 11 popular kids from her high school, plus Adam Turing, an embarrassing nerd loser geek.

Eden and her friends are each paid one million dollars cash up front to stay inside the biodome for a year. Who wouldn’t say yes?

The trouble is, inside the dome there are no supermarkets, no electricity, no food or drink when the snacks run out. In Moneyland there is no bank for Eden to keep her million in cash safe from her enemies – or her friends. There is no panic button when the group descends into anarchy and Adam’s crew of outcasts violently establishes a new pecking order – with cool kids like Eden at the bottom.


To read about the campaign and show your support, head to:

To read sample chapters, head to


Bay of Islands Poet Book Giveaway – Bio and Quiz Question

Jeremy Roberts is a Kiwi poet with a strong connection to the humble town of Russell in the Bay of Islands. JEREMY ROBERTS (4)

Jeremy’s most recent poetry collection is Cards On The Table (Interactive Publications 2015).

Read about Jeremy’s wild Russell days then have a crack at the quiz competition below and enter the draw to win.



In ‘83 I lived up in Russell, working on an Oyster farm located in Orongo Bay. Not long back from a post-Uni journey to Canada & Europe, I was at a bit of a ‘loose end’ & owed my bank what seemed like an enormous sum of $2000. Having some trouble adjusting back to life in Dorkland (as I called it) I took a job ‘up north’, with hopes of getting out of debt. I achieved my goal, gradually slipping into a ‘Northland-state-of-mind’ – minus the dak. I really can’t remember anyone offering anything. The oyster-harvesting team consisted off a seemingly miss-matched American couple who I quickly fell out with, a young local Black Sabbath fan who suffered from severe migraines, & a lazy Aussie ‘supervisor’ called Noddy. We worked the tide-timetable. At low tide, we put on big rubber waders & walked between rows of fat ‘ripe’ Pacific oysters, heaving hundreds of the asbestos sticks upon which they were grown, onto a flat steel barge which we pushed along. After building a hill of sticks, we’d start up the outboard motor & move closer & closer to shore, on the incoming tide. Using axes, we’d chip the oysters off the sticks & shovel them into sacks. I chipped my ass off! The oysters were then loaded into a refrigerated truck & most of them were flown out of the country straight away, to Hawaii. The owner of the oyster farm was doing very well. It was one of the very best jobs I ever had – the ultimate outdoor job in the ‘winterless North’. I learned to drive a tractor & used a chainsaw – no safety gear in those days! In the months there, my hair grew quite long & was bleached pure blond by the sun. ‘You look like Jesus’, people said. You had to put up with constantly cut fingers & in fact I once had a piece of oyster shell trapped inside a healed gash, which required a trip to the hospital at Kawakawa to remove it. I stayed in a caravan on Brumby farm – 2 or 3 kms from town. Sometimes at night, big sheep would rub their coats against the corners of the caravan, making a steady earthquake-like motion. On days off, I loved to walk along the winding road through gorgeous mangroves, to pick up the latest New Musical Express, buy a beer at the local tavern, order volumes of Sylvia Plath at the local stationers, or just stumble around, trying to write poems. One day I was hitch-hiking & Sam Hunt’s controversial publisher Alistair Taylor gave me a ride, but I was too shy to try to get him to look at my stuff. Caravan life suited me. I had Watties Baked Beans. I had a radio/tape deck. I loved hearing ‘Sierra Leone’ by NZ’s own Coconut Rough. I had no TV & was starved for Radio with Pictures. My cassette tape of Siouxsie & The Banshees’ album ‘A Kiss in the Dreamhouse’ made me dream about being back on the streets of London. Friends would drive up from Auckland to visit me, & they were always greeted with a huge buckets of oysters. They cost me nothing, of course, & the fact that I could eat them directly out of the sea, meant that I could never pay money for oysters ever again. At some stage I returned to Auckland. Thinking about it now, there were many reasons why I could have stayed in Northland, permanently. There were many good friendships to be made & many good times to be had. Kia ora




Who is the current NZ poet laureate? 

Email your answer to Jeremy at with ‘Writers Up North book giveaway’ in the subject line and Jeremy will pick a winner