Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's in our DNA...10 x (10 + -10) = 0 ... a ten year, ten book project completed

10 x (10 + -10) = 0 Book Launch

Thursday October 30th, 6pm
Scorpio Books 113 Riccarton Rd (03) 379 2882
live readings from the author plus original and new books available.

"Mission accomplished" famously announced a banner behind George W. Bush in 2003 on the deck of a US aircraft carrier just off the California coast, safely thousands of miles away from the (puzzlingly ongoing) hostilities in Iraq.

The 'second gulf war' is just one of the historical events captured in a series of books known as 10 x (10 + -10) = 0 by Doc Drumheller.  Devised as a kind of twisting DNA double helix of line restrictions and rhyme schemes spread over 10 books, each with a palindrome at its heart (where the strands intersect) the series captures many events and significant developments like a time capsule in a mesmerising, almost psychedelic form.  The central books (The Grey Area and The Missing Links) are themselves entirely made up of palindromic verse.

Drumheller begun this self-set mission of (more than) a decade in 2002, the year the human genome was finally mapped, no small inspiration for the structure of 10 x (10 + -10) = 0.  The first book of the sequence is entitled Blueprint for Ressurection or Destruction and the concluding chapter written some 10 years later is The Architecture of Apocalypse.

The first two chapbooks were accompanied by acclaimed multimedia performances bearing their name (Blueprint... and Fears and Fetishes) which made appearances in the Dunedin and Wellington Fringe Festivals and the NZ International Poetry Festival (Wellington).  They featured a unique blend of live and video-captured poetry, puppetry, perversion, curated soundscapes, pre-recorded and live video, found footage and costume.

The original chapbooks of the sequence are now rare collectors items with few of the original, limited print runs left.  They came accompanied with instructions on how to cut up and paste them together into long double helixes of poetry so there is no way of knowing how many books still exist in their original form.

Now the sequence is complete it is finally available in one collection: 10 x (10 + -10) = 0.  An impressive tome collecting all 200 poems from the sequence presented in their original shape and colours (each chapbook was entirely monochromatic, coloured according to the CYMK process with the central books presented in grey) plus extensive notes and introduction from the author, an index of phonemes used in the composition of the poems plus a never before published early poem, 'Inside Out', a precursor to the curious obsession of the series.

10 x (10 + -10) = 0 is the most ambitious publication to date from Republic of Oma Rāpeti Press.  A piece of New Zealand literary history, an anomaly, a time machine, a mathematical function, a shamanistic science experiment from a 'neo-music/poetry visionary'.

Republic of Oma Rāpeti media release:

10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0 is a ten year project by Doc Drumheller. There are ten books (1 per year) published in this series. There are twenty poems in each book, inspired by the most significant events of that particular year.

“In 1999, a group of my friends leased a 1920’s maternity hospital where we experimented with music, film, theatre, performance art, photography, painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, sound engineering, gardening, spirituality, and rock ‘n’ roll,” Doc says.

“Our intentions were to complete a recording with the band The Puffins. We invested all of our money into buying recording equipment, fancy microphones, mixing desks, speakers, and we set up our own recording studio. It was during this time that I devised a formula for a poetic structure, that would later become: 10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0,” says Drumheller

The poems were written using restriction writing techniques e.g.: restricted by the amount of syllables or words per line, parts 10 & ˉ10 in each book are palindromes, which means they read the same backwards as forwards.

“I was inspired by the work of 20th century art movements like Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, the Beat Generation, Absurdist Theatre, and the Oulipo,” says Drumheller.

10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0 began after the mapping of the human genome in 2002.  This year was also significant as 20/02/2002 was the first perfect palindrome date in one thousand years.

“My first vocational aspiration was to become a medical researcher and my nights reading Gray’s Anatomy are reflected in the early work. I performed surgery on my ventriloquist dummy and pulled strings of sausages and poems from his insides at festivals around New Zealand,” Doc says.

Each book is designed to be cut up and reassembled and the poetry creates shapes inspired by DNA strands and explores phonemes like a mathematic symphony. 

“My aim was to create a time capsule of a decade and if there is any conclusion I could draw from this experience is that humanity has become too passive, the opposite side of this equation, is to become more active and engaged in the world around us,” suggests Drumheller.

This project compiles all ten books, presenting all 200 poems into one collection for the first time. A project of experimental and innovative poetry on this scale has never been produced in New Zealand.

“By completing this project, which I set as an almost impossible task, I have proven to myself that everything is possible, and hope that it may inspire other artists to challenge themselves to go for the limit,” says Doc.

Doc will perform poems from the project at the launch, and individual chapbooks from the series will be available for sale, as well as the 232 page epic:10 x (10 + ˉ10) = 0, collecting all ten books.

Hot Spot Poetry Tour - launching A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children

Paula Green, writer and editor of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children is heading off round the country to promote the book and bringing along a rag-tag bunch of poets with her.

For more information on the tour, dates and poets as well as Paula herself - check out her blog:

Poetry Box

Our very own Doc Drumheller is one of the featured poets along with many other luminaries of NZ poetry.  Here's a list of public events and venues on the tour:

Mysterious Writing on Water to Emerge in Christchurch

Calling all Christchurch Poets - be part of live poetry readings in a poetry installation by Poetica - the Christchurch Urban Poetry Project.

Poetica's ‘Emerge’ installation involves a line of poetry by W.B. Yeats floating in the Avon River.  Accompanying the installation are readings and artist-led, 'liquid poetry' sessions where people can write poetic messages with water.

'Emerge' is part of FESTA - The NZ Festival of Transitional Architecture - one of the most exciting, diverse and internationally significant events in the country now into its third year.

When: The opening on 24/10 from 17:00 till 18:00
25/10 from 16:30 till 17:30 ( workshop writing with water from 16:00- 17:00)
26/10 from 16:30 till17:30 ( workshop writing with water from 16:00- 17:00)
27/10 is also an option. 16:00 till 17:00

Where:The water wheel, by Mills Island  Below Hereford Street bridge in the Avon River Oxford Terrace. POETICA
Anyone is welcome - just get in touch as soon as possible via private message to Poetica on Facebook or email kirstyhdunn@gmail.com with your details and your preferred slot for reading (see above).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Canterbury Poets Collective readings Spring 2014

It's an epic week of poetry this week - Poetry Slam Tuesday night, Canterbury Poets Collective on Wednesday and Lady Poets on Thursday.  Next week we're back at the Twisted Hop in Woolston for another Catalyst open mic.  Check out the poster for the CPC Spring readings this year in a new venue.  Featuring many excellent poets (including our very own Doc Drumheller and Ciaran Fox) and of course the CPC open mic series.  Get along!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Christchurch Poetry Slam - Da Rulz

Kia ora.  We have had to postpone the big night for one week but in the meantime here is a handy run-down of the official NZ Poetry Slam rules which we'll be using at the Christchurch heat.

See you next week!

Christchurch Poetry Slam
Tuesday 30th Sept, 7pm
Darkroom 336 St Asaph St
Free entry!  Koha welcome for the ChCh winners to travel to Wellington.


Rules for NZ National Poetry Slam 

  • 3 minutes or less with no minimum time (10 second grace period before point’s deduction) 
  • Time starts when poet speaks, however while poets can have time to settle and adjust microphone etc, this time is not limitless; ideally a poet should start after 10 seconds. 
  • Original poems only 
  • No props no music no costumes (i.e. clothing related to the content of your poem) 
  • In the case of a tie a slam off will be required 
  • Random draw, for performance order. 

Judging and scoring 

  • 5 Audience Judges (chosen by MC and/or organiser) display score cards 0-10 (Decimal points allowed) 
  • Top and bottom scores drop off and total of remaining 3 scores is the total 
  • If Poet goes over grace period MC or Timekeeper to ask scorer to mark down points after the judges score… (Half a point penalty for every 10 seconds over time) 
  •  After 4 minutes the MC can shut down the poet 
  • 'Sacrificial Poet' (non-competing) to start the night, to help calibrate scores. 
  • Slams are equally about writing, performance and audience response. 
  • Slammers should have at least 3 poems, as for the Regionals and NZ Slam there will be three rounds…

Thursday, August 28, 2014


SURVIVOR: POETRY is back!  We have our ten castaways, we have our appointment with destiny!

$12 / $10 entry
Ticket sales here

Don't miss the best mash up of live poetry, performance anxiety, and reality TV you'll ever see.

And for a wee taste of the auditions that happened a few weeks ago (along with the musings of your Catalyst Crew) check this out:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Words of War - music and poetry at the Court Theatre

We're proud to be a part of this event at the Court Theatre (and encouraged by their desire to be a part of the performance poetry movement in Christchurch).  Below is a letter from Philip Aldridge and Dan Pengelly of the Court Theatre explaining a little more about the event this week.

Tena Koutou,
We would like to invite you along to an intimate afternoon of poetry at The Court Theatre. This is the first Forge foray into poetry and we hope to make an annual event exploring words, voice and the world around us. Featuring poets from Christchurch’s professional poetry collectives Catalyst and Lady Poets as well as our very own Ross Gumbley and Philip Aldridge.
Words of War
Europe, Gallipoli, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Serbia and Iraq… Poetry inspired and impassioned by WAR.
On Sunday two spaces will hold words, voices and stories inspired and impassioned by War.
The afternoon starts at 4pm with music by Amy Grace. Two 40 minute sessions of poetry will take place in The Pub Charity Studio and The Chapman Tripp Stage. From raw and fresh verses of Tusiata Avia to the beautiful crafted words of Kipling, there will be something for everyone.
Sunday 3 of August
The Court Theatre: Pub Charity Studio & Chapman Trip Stage
Tickets $10 for all ages, available from The Court Theatre
Nine poets reciting poetry from World War 1 to Iraq
The bar will be open, includes 20 minute interval
This is a Forge at The Court event. Not sure what that means? The Forge is our boutique theatre brand that goes alongside The Court Theatre main season. Offering intimate and creative theatre experiences for Canterbury audiences. This is our playground for innovation and things that are a little bit different.
We would love to see you there.
Regards and aroha,
Philip Aldridge, Chief Executive of The Court Theatre &
Daniel Pengelly, Associate Director of The Court Theatre

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival 2014

 Wow! Has two years gone by already?  It's that time again, when the Writers Festival hits town and this time it's got a brand new look and is more ambitious than ever - 68 events over 5 days.  2014 also sees a much bigger spotlight on poetry and we are proud to be presenting not one but two shows this year.

Catalyst Road Show reprise: My Republic 
Saturday 30 August - 9pm - The Darkroom - Free entry!

Yep, we're bringing back the popular poetical, musical road trip especially for the WORD Christchurch 2014 festival. Featuring some of the stand-out performance poets from our 2013 slow tour of the city suburbs and one special guest, reunited with Doc Drumheller on guitar, the original seven Road Shows showcased some amazing performance poets in celebration of ten years of Catalyst journals and open mics.  The 2013 shows came with seven limited edition chapbooks (collector's items now!) and culminated with the launch of Catalyst volume 10.  Now this special one-off Road Show brings to festival audiences a taste of this multi-collaboration, song and poem experience and launches the 11th volume of Catalyst 'My Republic'.  Featured poets: Andy Coyle; Ben Brown; Ciaran Fox; Kimberley Holmes and special Auckland guest Grace Taylor of Rising Voices fame accompanied by Doc Drumheller on guitar and songs.

Survivor: Poetry 
Sunday 31 August - 6pm
Rydges Savoy West - $12/$10 entry

Yep that's right, it's the return of the infamous, cut-throat and downright unfair performance poetry competition. Stranded before a live audience, 10 poets have only their guts and wits to see them through a series of challenging rounds of poetical mayhem - only to have to run the gauntlet of Tribal Council. Who will outlast them all to become our third ever 'Survivor Poet'?

So we're looking for fearless (or foolhardy) poets to be our castaways - auditions will be held at our next open mic on the 5th August - 7pm at the Twisted Hop in Woolston. We'll put up a separate post about this to remind you. Come on, you know you want to!