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The battle of poetic words

Thursday 20 Sep 2012 11:54 p.m.

By Ali Ikram

Some battles are fought with guns, some with knives, but there's a showdown coming on Saturday night at the Auckland Town Hall where words will be the weapons.

Face to face and toe to toe, verse versus verse - welcome to the world of competitive poetry.

In practice, she's a barely contained ball of simmering rage, but this time last year on the big stage Rena Alefosio blanked.

This weekend she is determined to do better.

“I'm back here with a vengeance,” she says. “I'm here to challenge myself to get through my peice to give the audience what they want - that's been my goal for the last year.”

It's the second year of Rising Voices, a poetry slam for writers aged 16 to 24.

“We were very hesitant last year [about] how a young person could entertain the whole town hall with just a microphone,” event co-founder Jai Macdonald says. “It's just amazing you see these young people, so vulnerable, and the crowd taking in what they have to say.”

It's Mohamed Hassan's first trip to the final where he'll be hoping to win over the judges with his musings on the loss of a loved one.

“You and I were never the kind to back away from a fight, especially when your life was at stake, your eyes seem distant, your fire flies asleep.”

He says poetry is a great way to open up about his feelings.

“It's a lot easier to, for me at least, for me to share my poems than talk to someone about my problems.”

The battles lines will be spoken on Saturday night.

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