28171003_1780129022010622_597957681_oPhoto by Adam Thomas

Tahi Atea has been writing since he could talk. A passionate spoken word artist, he has been active in the Canberra poetry scene since 2015. Tahi represented the ACT in the Australian Poetry Slam National Championship in 2016. His work explores themes of justice, homecoming and belonging.


When did you write your first poem and what was it about?

Tahi: The first poem I remember was in year four, and if I remember correctly, this is it:

“The ocean come up

With the tide in its arms

And lays it to sleep on the shore

It turns away

Comes back to its home

Slowly being followed by the tide.”

I was a very melodramatic 10-year-old. The first performance poem I wrote was six years ago, and it was about a friend of mine who thought I was kidding when I told her she was beautiful.

What’s the hardest thing about writing poetry?

Tahi: The hardest thing about poetry is realizing you will never be 100% happy with it! I struggle with this every time I sit down to write. Editing is my own personal, self-created hell because finding the middle ground between “it’s fixed enough” and “it’s fixed too much” is really difficult for me.

When did you realize you were a poet?

Tahi: I don’t know, short answer. I have been a poet more or less my entire life, but I can’t really pinpoint a moment when I knew I was a poet, rather than just someone who wrote poems sometimes. The first time I performed a poem was a really big one for me though, I was 16 and it was at a school poetry slam. The whole experience was terrifying, but afterwards, a few people came up and told me that something I had made inside my head meant something to them. That was huge.

What do you remember about your first poetry performance?

Tahi: Well, I’ve said some of that already, but other stuff I remember is mostly nerves. I remember that it was a random order and I got called first, which was terrifying. And I remember that I made a friend of mine cry (good crying) because the poem I performed was about her.

If you could meet any poet from the past who would you choose and why?

Tahi: Too many! If I could I’d hold the most epic poetry dinner party ever. If I had to choose just one, it’d probably come to a coin toss between W.H. Auden and e.e. Cummings. I love them both so much, their poems have touched and changed my life and my poetry in ways I’ll probably never be able to unravel or articulate, and to be perfectly honest I just want to pick their brains. And maybe have them write about me.


Next Stop: Tahi will be performing at the Poetry Gala for Red Nose.

Poetry Gala for Red Nose

28th of March at Smiths Alternative

Entry $10