Mālō e leiei, Talofa lava, Kia orana and a massive warm
My name is Zech Soakai, I'm of Samoan and Tongan descent and a
spoken-word poet. I have been afforded the MASSIVE
opportunity to go all the way to Greece to go on the
Rhodes Poetry Retreat 2018 in September... and I need you
to help me get there!
Wait, what, you're going all the way to Rhodes for
Yep, and not just any kind of poetry - spoken word poetry.
Spoken word is a form of poetry that, at its core, is poetry that
demands to be seen and/or heard beyond the page. I write all my own
material and also 'publish' it via film, live performance and
sometimes even gallery installation.
Because spoken-word is a bit of a 'niche' or 'hybrid' form,
practitioners like me have very few spoken-word-specific
opportunities to upskill in their practice. This residency is one
of them. So that's my 'why'.
I'm going half-way around the world to learn under the
formidable and internationally-acclaimed Luka Lesson. While there
I'll be able to spend rare and intensive time working on my
manuscript for my upcoming book, and also learn from one of the
best poetry educators in the world!
Not only do I want to be there for myself, as an artist, but I
also want to bring all of my learnings back to South Auckland and
wider New Zealand for all of my teina (students) that I get
the absolute privilege of mentoring, teaching and on the best of
days, learning from. If you'd like to view something cool I got up
to last year click here!
Ok cool - but why does this matter?
This matters, because this is the first big investment I have
made in my practice as an 'artist' (whatever that means). This
matters, because if there's anything I've been guilty of, it's
being one of those people that don't prioritize their art
I am incredibly dedicated and clinical in my approach to all that
I do. If you knew me from high school, I'd probably fit the
over-achievers mould, and in many ways that hasn't changed. But I
am also a yes-man, who has for far too long put my craft on the
back burner for education and 'proper career moves'. So this
is me taking a punt on my wildest dreams and reaching out to you
(my village) to help make my dreams a reality.
More info and my interview with Stuff/Manukau Courier: here
Why I'm asking for your help:
I am fortunate enough to be a recipient of the Manurewa
Rāngathai Youth Scholarship Fund, which will cover the airfares for
my trip, and now I need to fund the actual cost of the residency
At the moment I'm a postgraduate student, in my last semester at
Auckland Uni studying English Literature and tutoring Pacific
Studies. Between trying to remember how not-to-burn-toast and avoid
permanently stapling myself with to-do lists, I have little time to
go the traditional route of putting on fundraisers. So this
platform and your consequent financial help will make a significant
and meaningful contribution to my goal of getting to Greece!
How much I'm asking for:
Right let's not mince our words. I am asking for
$2500. The actual cost of the residency is $2100 AUD
and so crowdfunding $2500 NZD makes sense, as I'll have to account
for the 10% admin fee associated with going via Boosted (s/o to the
incredible work these guys do!) and also the conversion rates and
admin fees associated via paying for my residency with
Should, I find myself in the unlikely but incredible
position where I have more than what I need, I plan on
using this money to run several community-based arts education
projects in South Auckland and the greater Auckland area on my
return, as I know there is a real need for our communities to tell
their stories and liberate themselves from within.
Who am I?
Zech Soakai is an artist who works with text, archival material,
sound, and more recently film to put together an honest, reflective
and hilarious-in-that-we're-laughing-at-you-NOT-with-you poetic
As a fresh grad of UoA's Pacific Studies and English Literature
program, he has spent the better part of five years thinking,
writing and creating about the diaspora and Pasifika identity in
Niu Sila. To date, he has:
- Co-founded Niu Wave an Arts Collective
- Won the 2016 University of Auckland Poetry Slam
- Won the 2017 GROUNDED: Battle of the Arts inter-disciplinary
- Worked under NZ Poet Laureate and Associate Professor Dr.
Selina Tusitala Marsh as her Summer Research Assitant / "Summer
- Been a recipient of the Someday Stories Short Film fund
- Created the film "When We Speak" with Miliama Tamiano, Kyla
Dela Cruz and Liam Jacobson
- Co-wrote and performed in the poetry-theatre shows SKIN and
MOUTH:TEETH:TONGUE, each time in collaboration with Auckland
Theatre Company and Grace Taylor.
- Had his work shown in Auckland Museum's Urbanlife (2012) and
He Pou Kanohi (2017) exhibitions.
- Had his work shown in Ottawa, Canada at the Asinabka Film
& Media Arts Festival's "Indigenous Curatorial Incubator
- Performed at the Christchurch Body Festival with
Interdisciplinary Artist Collective: Sleeping Ocean
- And has just recently been published in online journal Ruru
As an educator/facilitator he has: been a mentor in WORD the
Frontline: New Zealand's Inter-highschool poetry slam for the past
three years, is registered with the NZ Book Council as a an author
for their Writers in Schools project, has been involved as a Poetry
Facilitator for the last two years with the Poetry Project at the
Michael King Writer's Centre and run a poetry workshop at the
Pacific Arts Association Conference in Apia, Samoa.
10 MONTHS AGO
I don't always want to directly promo my boosted account... but till the campaign finishes I'll be posting up little ramblings and answering any FAQ -- so flick those q's my way! I don't have much time these days to write (what artist in the 21st century does?!!) But you always gotta be ready!
Anyway today, I tackle a question I get asked a lot... what am I inspired by.
Well, today I was inspired by @yebbasmith's insta-story to write something.
As an artist, I'm finding more and more that my job is literally to just turn up and tune in to what's around me... and then when I'm ready... I respond. 🙏🏾 This is today's response, echoed into a meditation, pretending to be "poetry".
A #FlashPoetry Update for your Monday Morning!
10 MONTHS AGO
Doing some #flashpoetry on some spare pieces of paper this morning. Still processing all the kindness that has been shown to me so far! If anyone wants to know what it feels like to walk naked ~ I encourage you to do a crwodfunding campaign. T
here’s an art to asking people for money/support for your dreams, and I am learning to speak this language. Monday’s weekly BOOSTED plug! If ur able to (and comfortable to) contribute do know I take no amount of $$$ lightly and it would be going to a good cause!