Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Spoken Ecologies

Poetry reading

12.00pm 13 March 2024

Tāhuhu Kōrero Toi Summer Scholar in Art History Margo Montes de Oca brings together poets to share work in response to Folded Memory. Using their poetry to bear witness to the kaleidoscopic stories of geology and ecology of Aotearoa, these readers will guide us through shifting landscapes of time, extending the tendrils of human language out towards the more-than-human. Featuring Joan Fleming, Ash Davida Jane, Ruben Mita, Niamh Hollis-Locke, Loretta Riach, and Hana Pera Aoake.

Margo Montes de Oca is a poet and researcher of dual Mexican and Pākehā descent, living in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara. With a background in both the humanities and conservation biology, she is interested in writing and art that works across disciplines to inform understandings of inter-species relationship and exchange. She holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature, and as the 2023-2024 Summer Scholar in Art History at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, her research focused on the function of camera-less photography in exploring the implications of granting legal personhood to bodies of water. Her poetry has been published in journals such as Starling, Sweet Mammalian and Bad Apple.

Joan Fleming’s latest book is the verse novel Song of Less (Cordite Books), which explores the limits of love, language, and individualism in the ruins of ecological collapse. Her current project, The Fig Book, is a tragicomic failed love story that opens into an ecological folktale. She is the author of the poetry collections The Same as Yes and Failed Love Poems (THWUP), and her honours include the Biggs Poetry Prize, the Verge Prize for Poetry, the Harri Jones Memorial Prize from the Hunter Writers’ Centre, shortlisting for the Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest, a Creative New Zealand Writing Fellowship, and a Michael King Writers’ Centre established residency. She is currently a teaching fellow at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Niamh Hollis-Locke is a Pōneke-based writer, ecopoet, and editor. Born in England but educated in Aotearoa, her creative practice blends landscapes, folklore, archaeology, and personal histories to explore ecological themes and ideas of belonging. Her work has been published widely in Aotearoa as well as in the UK, and in 2023 she was shortlisted for the Ginkgo Prize Best Poem of the UK Landscape Award. Niamh is the current guest-editor of Minarets, sub-editor for Rat World magazine, and, when she can find the time, is writing her first collection. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing specialising in ecofiction, a BA & BA(Hons) in English Literature, and is currently studying towards a GradDip in Anthropology.

Ash Davida Jane is a writer from Pōneke and a publisher at Tender Press. Their second collection of poetry How to Live With Mammals was published by Te Herenga Waka University Press, and won second place in the 2021 Laurel Prize. Jane holds an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, and a BA(Hons) in English Literature from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. They regularly review books on RNZ.

Loretta Riach is an artist and writer from Aotearoa. They have recently moved from Te Whanganui-a-Tara to Naarm, where they make art about timescales and landscapes, and are an avid collector of trinkets and fossils. You can find their writing in journals like Sweet Mammalian, Starling, Minarets, Takahē Magazine, and Poetry Aotearoa Yearbook. Reading on their behalf is Margo Montes de Oca.

Ruben Mita is a poet, musician and ecologist from Wellington. In 2022 he was awarded the Story Inc Poetry Prize from the Institute of Modern Letters, and in 2023 he was the Featured Student Poet in a fine line. His poetry has been published in a range of journals such as Starling, Landfall, takahē, Tarot and Sweet Mammalian. He likes fungi, sounds, fish and campfires, and writes poetry that plays with overlapping realities.

Hana Pera Aoake (Ngaati Mahuta, Ngaati Hinerangi, Waikato/Tainui, Waitaha, Ngaati Waewae ki Kai Tahu Poutini) is a mother, artist, writer and independent researcher based in Kawerau. They recently published writing in The Material Kinship Reader: Material Beyond Extraction and Kinship Beyond the Nuclear Family (2022), as well as online on Granta, Runway, Artlink, Artnow, The Art Paper, Un magazine and Running Dog. In 2020 they published a book of essays(ish) called A bathful of kawakawa and hot water with Compound Press. They primarily co-organise Kei te pai press (with Morgan Godfery), a Maaori space for sharing, learning and publishing. Pera Aoake is the recipient of the 2024 curatorial residency with Delfina Foundation and Metroland Cultures in London - an international exchange centred on community practice. Their collaborative work with Taarn Scott, Invasive Weeds, is currently on show in Folded Memory.

Photograph of the work Invasive Weeds

Taarn Scott & Hana Pera Aoake (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Hinerangi, Tainui/Waikato, Tauranga Moana, Ngāti Waewae), Invasive Weeds, 2022, pressed aluminium tin displayed on pins, 37 plaques of varying dimensions, courtesy of the artists.