BMA Magazine

Renaissance: Get To Know Tahi Atea

Tahi Atea

Tahi Atea will be presenting his original spoken word poetry at Renaissance

What is the meaning and importance of words and language to you, and when do you think you first realised this?

For me the important thing isn’t really words, but communication. Communication is hugely important to me, without it literally nothing can function. Everything that works together, that touches, that communicates. Words and language are the most useful way of communicating, that we as humans have. They are a beautiful, varied, complex way, and one that I love dearly, but to me words are not important in themselves, they’re important in their purpose.

Could you please give me a brief history of you as a poet?

It would probably be easier to give a life history! I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I still have song lyrics that I wrote in preschool. Some of them are pretty good. I started writing spoken word poetry when I was 16. I discovered slam poetry on YouTube and have been in love with it ever since. I was also really lucky that the school I attended, Hawker College, had at the time a lot of support for poetry, and performance poetry especially. I’ve been performing around Canberra for about five years now. In 2015 I won the National Folk Festival Poetry Slam and in 2016 I was a runner-up for the ACT Poetry Slam Championship, which meant I got to represent the ACT at the Australian Poetry Slam National Championship at the Sydney Opera House. Right now I’m not doing much performance-wise until Renaissance, but I am working on my first book of poetry.

Could you please give me a brief overview of your style and its origins/ greatest inspirations?

… No, is the short answer. I enjoy working with a variety of subjects and techniques, so a lot of my work doesn’t really have much that unifies it. I really enjoy creating an atmosphere in my poetry, be it physical or emotional – I write a fair few dreamscapes and non-linear narratives. As for inspirations, the poet that made me want to be a poet was Sarah Kay, an American spoken word performer and teacher. Another really important poet to me has been Will Small – he was the chaplain at Hawker College when I attended, and he ran a lot of poetry events that really got me started. My most influential written poets are W.H. Auden and e.e. cummings.

Who or what would be your favourite artist or artwork from the Renaissance period?

Is it too cliché if I say Da Vinci? I love how clever his work is, and how many layers there are to it, both physically and symbolically. Head of a Woman by Da Vinci is my favourite Renaissance artwork.

Any plans for this year regarding your poetry?

Get this book finished! I’ve been working on it for way too long. It’s getting finished this year if it kills me. Additionally, I’ll be performing at Renaissance on the 2nd of March, then at the National Folk Festival over Easter as a part of the Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit team, and I’m very excited for that!

What aspects of the Renaissance period do you find most exciting or inspiring?

It’s hope. The idea that understanding can bring about a better life is beautiful, and that’s the idea at the heart of the Renaissance.

What are the main themes in your original poetry that you will be performing at Renaissance?

It’s really difficult for me to boil my work down to shared themes, because I work in such broad topics and ideas, but probably the ideas of justice and homecoming and how they relate to each other just about cover it.

What about the event Renaissance is most significant or exciting for you?

Lots of artists in one place! I’m a fan of anything that brings creators together; I think it leads to better, more thoughtful art and a stronger community. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I’m spending a lot of time in a bush town in Victoria at the moment, and the sights and smells and textures there are fantastic, and especially the sounds. I’m very sense-oriented in my writing, so that’s having a big effect.

Do you find Valentine’s Day a genuine day to celebrate love, or simply yet another tasteless day driven by commercialism and the media?

Why can’t it be both? A lot of the time we get caught up trying to define everything as Good or Bad but that’s not how it works. I personally love Valentine’s Day. I take it as an opportunity to remind my friends how much I adore them. Anything at all is what you make of it. If you think Valentine’s Day is tacky cards and too much money spent on chocolate, then that’s what it will be, but if you want it to be something cool and fun and beautiful, there’s nothing in your way.

RENAISSANCE is set to take over The Hamlet on Lonsdale Street, Braddon on Friday March 2 from 6pm. Free entry.