Talented Performance Poet: Zane Scarborough

Zane Scarborough is of Māori and European heritage who was born and raised in New Zealand. He is a father, husband, poet and the Manager for Attitude programmes for schools.  (Attitude is the youth education division of Parents Inc., dedicated to creatively teaching life skills that will assist teenagers to make life-enhancing choices). I am grateful to Zane for accepting my invitation to feature as guest blogger.

I first met Zane Scarborough in 2010. We were two of four new members who joined the South Auckland Poets Collective. Since then, Zane has taken the stage by storm with his spoken word poetry performances. He writes with a lot of heart and his witty sense of humour is  infused in his poetry. In 2011, Zane and I along with 4 other Poets from the South Auckland Poets Collective, travelled to the South Island of New Zealand to tour Dunedin. I believe it is safe to say that on this Dunedin tour, Zane was the only Poet who managed to effortlessly make the audience members laugh lol!

Recently, Zane had travelled to Melbourne, Australia as part of the NZ team of Poets to compete in the Trans Tasman Slam at Revolt Artspace! It was a Spoken Word Poetry Slam between Australia and New Zealand. Zane made it to the finals and he went on to reign as the INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION OF THE 2012 TRANS TASMAN SLAM! Truly inspirational! He has made all of us extremely proud! (Zane’s trophy is featured in the photo on the left).

Furthermore, most of our members of the South Auckland Poets Collective will travel to San Francisco to participate in the Brave New Voices conference in July 2012.  Zane will be amongst the team that will be travelling to the U.S for this event. This conference will specifically focus on spoken word performances and poetry writing with over 500 young poets from over 50 parts of the United States and cities across the globe.  Amazing!

Many thanks once again to you Zane for taking the time to write your blog post. We shall catch up again soon. God bless xox

Here is Zane’s blog post. Enjoy! 😉

Thank you Maryanne for this opportunity to blog on here, I appreciate your invitation.  I’ve always felt out of my depth writing, this blog is no exception. In class I always wrote less than average essays. There was too much structure for me and my scatterbrain couldn’t keep up with the idea of logical thought progression.

For a long time this curbed by love for literature. My love for language was instead cultivated in school time lunch breaks; rapping the best lines of my favourite song (trying to win over Terry-Anne so she would eventually fall in love with me) and talking myself out of the many detentions I deserved. I learned through this experience that having the right words in the playground jungle was only half what I needed, saying the right words can only take you so far. In order to persuade, excite, scare or move someone emotionally you need to say the right words in the right way.

This is probably why I love spoken word poetry so much. The words are meant to be experienced by an audience and not just read. Every pause, breathe or wince can completely change the feeling of a word. Sometimes the power can be in what you don’t say but imply.

Whenever I sit down to write a poetry piece, I always ask myself the following questions; how can I take the audience on a journey? Is this interesting? Is it resolved? Most importantly I always ask myself – what am I going to leave with the audience when I walk off stage? To me good performance poetry is the equivalent of an amazing story, I want to leave people with a piece of myself.

I belong to a group of storytellers called the South Auckland Poets Collective. The 11 of us meet fortnightly to write and perform spoken word poetry. Every meeting becomes a campfire situation where we exchange the stories of our lives. When we are writing something we intend to perform in public the collective group gives feedback that is greatly appreciated. The central question we ask of each other is – does this feel authentic? Is the language, persona, subject matter and performance true to the person we are off stage? Poets can use poetry as a place for alter-egos to take over but to us, it is important that the poem is a true extension of the poets every day person.

This commitment to being authentic is how I have transferred my school yard lessons into performance poetry. On stage I try to say the right things in the right way – I try to tell my stories in a way that is believable. I’d like to leave you with a poem that helped me win the first ever Trans-tasman Poetry Slam between Australia and New Zealand. It’s about my most precious possession. Please read the words first and then watch the video. My intention was that this poem be heard, not read.

I remember the first time I ever saw my son, he was beautiful.
No trumpets, I didn’t hear angels herald your birth, no immaculate conception, but to me you there must have been hay bails or something … because you were perfect.

And I was useless against his charms, against his blue eyes that for a year and a half I prayed would change colour. So you would resemble me in the slightest way (this is a joke FYI) … but now a year and a half on, those blue eyes I love.

Scared. The first time we drove him home from the hospital. I would have made nanas look like boy racers I was that careful. And I was so proud showing you off, convinced that my son was special, different from all the other kids … I’m sure all parents think that … but they’re wrong … you are special (another joke).

I always thought of you as my miracle child. Despite the 3 times medical professionals advised you wouldn’t survive, you did. But you survived. The ultra sound revealing heart beats because you were my miracle child. Not everyone knew you were still alive after the bleed, someone at work tried to comfort me by telling me they went through 5 miscarriages before their girl was born.

I never forgot that conversation.

Paora – translated from Maori into English means Paul. Translated from ancient Greek and Hebrew texts through our cultural context. Paul was an apostle from the bible – a man who just like me turned his heart towards a new God, this new God embodied in the body of a nobody that walked the earth and refused the somebody’s to one day become somebody.

Paora – because I wanted to annoy every teacher who can’t roll their R’s. So every teacher who can’t pronounce your name properly will understand that you are cut from a different cloth. Paora – not “Paeroa” or “Pora” but the name given to you by my own mother’s family. Whose dark skin will forever remind you that you are different … even when you need more SPF sun block my pasty son. Your veins will testify that your blood type is also Maori.

Mamai, powhiri, karanga. The first time your extended family extended their hands around your body was at a tangi. You were healing for them. We played pass the parcel with you and those blue eyes cut through the blackest of days as if my son’s rays reminded people of sunny days, you became healing in that place … new born … at only four pound nine, a reminder of life, of new beginnings, of second chances with your cries. Salty tears fell from wrinkled faces … you were baptized.

Every night I put you to bed, I put your head in my palm, pressed your nose against mine, inhaled, filled my lungs, I think perfect, I think charmer, I think special, I think miracle and I think healer … and I think … thank you God.

Here is my spoken word poetry performance of “PAORA”:

My advice to all who seek to perform spoken word poetry is to be yourself! It has always worked for me!


To visit Zane’s blog here is the link: www.zanescarborough.com


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