Sandspit playwright Joanna Pearce performed an early version of Testostrogen at Winter Words.
Friends of Mahurangi East Library will launch the sixth season of Winter Words next month – an opportunity to see creative writing spoken and performed.
Library acting manager Fleur Coleman says the idea grew out of her personal experience as a teenager, where she wrote as a “safe thing to do” to get her thoughts and feelings out of her head.
An invited guest speaker – either local or from further afield – is normally allocated the first half hour and will typically read some of their poetry, a short story, an extract from a novel or perform in a play.
There is then a short break for refreshments and then the open mic session begins, where local poets and other creative writers have a chance to showcase their own works or the works’ of others they admire.
Fleur says following the guest’s performance, people are often so busy talking about what they have just seen during the interval that she has to ring her librarian’s bell to encourage people to return to their seats.
Notable past guests include Sandspit playwright Joanna Pearce – who performed an early version of her transgender play Testostrogen – and Cathie Koa Dunsford, who read extracts from her novel Occupy Omaha.
Snells Beach resident Isabella van Hulten was so encouraged by the reaction to her children’s story A Friend for Amy at Winter Words that she went ahead and published her first children’s picture book.
Fleur says the focus is on creative literary works and not so much on non-fiction or musical items.
She admits that in addition to the standout performances there have been a few things that went sideways, such as a guest who tried to convert the audience to communism and later drifted off into talking about alien abductions.
“These sorts of things are fun, too, because the memories they create are very rich,” Fleur says.
“The guts of it all is having a safe space to come and express yourself. It’s a celebration of free speech.”
The first Winter Words for 2021 will take place on Wednesday, May 26, at the Mahurangi East Library.
Doors open at 6.45 for a 7pm start. Thereafter they take place on the last Wednesday of the month at the same time.
Entry is by gold coin donation, but Fleur says nobody should be inhibited from coming if they can’t spare the cash.