Hutt at Heart

Poet’s journey from Library writing group to stellar success

After visiting a Library writing group Dallas Karangaroa’s slam poem Homeless has now been viewed online over 13,000 times.

On Friday afternoons during the school term you’ll find a group of keen rangatahi meeting for a regular writing group at the War Memorial Library organised by Teen Services Librarian Alisha Tyson. During these sessions teens have the opportunity to share their work, express their thoughts, and gain constructive feedback to grow their confidence.

Dallas Karangaroa (16), a student at Taita College, came to a session in early 2019 that included guest author Catherine Robertson (best-selling NZ author of Gabriel’s Bay and What You Wish For). Dallas shared his slam poem Homeless leaving the group speechless at his talent and meaningful message behind his poem. In the words of NZ Poetry Shelf writer Paula Green, “His extraordinary poem takes you apart and then somehow, miraculously, wonderfully, puts you back together again.”

Catherine and Alisha thought Dallas needed to share his poem Homeless with the world so Catherine got in touch with Orange Sky; an Australian charity that provides mobile showering and laundry services for the homeless, and they agreed that it would be ideal to share Dallas’ poem.

With the help of Taita College Librarian Lydean Herman, Dallas was filmed performing his poem at school. Lydean said “The collaboration between Taita College’s Knowledge Hub and Hutt City Libraries opens the door for our students and their whānau to access amazing learning experiences and opportunities in a safe environment outside of the school, whilst still being connected to the school. It has created the sense of a learning community, where we can draw from each other’s resources and provide a holistic and inclusive service that fits with the needs of our people. The Hutt City Libraries team work alongside us, and help us nurture a lifelong love of learning with our students. The creative writing workshop run by Alisha and her team at War Memorial Library gave students like Dallas a place to share their work with a much wider audience and gain valuable feedback, extending the learning beyond the classroom.”

Catherine Robertson added, “When the world is a challenging place, creative writing gives young people a means to express their thoughts and emotions, and share their perspective with others. We especially need to encourage young people who might feel that words and creativity aren’t for them – they need to know that anyone can and should tell their stories. The more diversity in the stories we share, the more we build empathy and understanding. Writing groups like the one at Hutt Central Library are so important for providing our rangatahi with a safe, supportive and fun space to be creative, and giving them the confidence to take their stories out into the world.”

Rising star Dallas Karangaroa will surely share more poems with the world so keep his name in mind. Hopefully this is not the last publishing story from this group of creative writers either, if you’d like to take part you can find out more on the Hutt City Libraries’ website.

You can view Dallas’ poem Homeless on the Orange Sky Facebook Page, as well as an interview with him about the poem. The Creative Writing Group for youth meets every Friday during the school term at the War Memorial Library from 4:30pm-6pm.

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