Grace Taylor is a Aotearoa born and bred poet of Samoan and English heritage. She has been performing, producing, teaching in the spoken word world for the last 7 years. Co-Creator of the first youth poetry slam in Aotearoa RISING VOICES YOUTH POETRY MOVEMENT. Her first collection of poetry AFAKASI SPEAKS published by Ala Press in 2013. Directed her first poetry theatre show SKIN in 2014 and debut as a playwright in her current poetry theatre show MY OWN DARLING. Recipent of the Creative New Zealand Emerging Pacific Artist Award 2014.
Jonathan "Intrepid" Clarke Sypert
Jonathan Clarke Sypert teaches singing, dancing, acting, poetry, rap and music production for a variety of organizations including Henry J. Kaiser High School, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, PALS/PLACES on the Waianae Coast, The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program at Punahou School, STEPS to Success with Ohana Komputer, and Pacific Tongues. Jonathan uses his talents and connections to build partnerships with charities and organizations that are entrenched in the front lines of social causes and issues. In 2017 Jonathan will be involved with the Sex Abuse Treatment center of Honolulu and Honolulu Theatre for Youth for the respect 2.0 interscholastic rally; pacific tongues' interscholastic poetry workshops; organize entertainment for events to benefit the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children; will host a YouTube channel to reveal "What's Poppin" in the culture and arts of the Aloha State; and will co-design an online marketing strategy for FASD Communities, a not-for-profit organization that is laying the foundation for a network of rehabilitative residencies for adults afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
an emerging/ contemporary dancer. choreographer.
Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala is a contemporary dancer, choreographer and spoken word artist. Born and raised in Aotearoa, New Zealand. She has roots in many places around the world, but her pacific
heritage comes from the islands of Fiji (Macuata/Ba).
In 2009, she participated in Black Grace's Urban Youth Movement as a leading female performer. She was then invited to take part in an internship with the company, training, rehearsing and, learning repertoire. In 2010, Jahra began her formal training at Unitec. She graduated after 3 years of study with a Bachelor in Performing and Screen Arts, majoring in Contemporary dance.
Aside from graduating in 2010, Jahra also began to make her mark on the NZ Poetry scene. She competed in the acclaimed Poetry Idol Slam Competition. She placed second and also represented Auckland in Wellington at the National Poetry Slam. Since graduating Jahra has collaborated and performed for artists such as Sarah Foster-Sproull (Orchids), Grace Woollett (MOTHER/JAW), Thomas Fonua (Malaga), MAU Company/Lemi Ponifasio (I AM), and Grace Taylor (Rising Voices Movement).
Jahra's work (poetry & dance) has taken her to many parts of the world including The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. Also creating opportunities where she has collaborated with an array of artists extensively. In 2014, Jahra travelled to Banff to take part in the internationally acclaimed Indigenous Dance Residency. She was also a part of 'Chewing Your Ears' a spoken word show that was picked up by the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Jahra is known for her powerful performances, ancient edge, and socially provocative nature. Her creative works are interdisciplinary, solo and group theatre dance works. Jahra’s choreographies and poetic pieces are generally interdisciplinary works based on political and social events, specifically those surrounding race and gender movements and dislocated cultural identity. She explores the space between contemporary dance and live poetry, whilst incorporating other mediums. Her work serves as a platform to create open discussions on the connections with historical events.
Jahra has choreographed and co-choreographed many works, including her latest work
MOTHER/JAW. MOTHER/JAW premiered to a sold-out four night season at The Basement Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand. At the Fringe Awards, MOTHER/JAW was awarded five out of ten awards, including the ‘Auckland Live Development Award’ which secures a performance season at the Herald Theatre in Aotea Centre, to be shown in 2016.
Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner is a Marshallese poet and activist. Her writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change. Bearing witness at the front lines of various activist movements inspires her work and has propelled her poetry onto international stages. She has performed her poetry in front of audiences ranging from elementary school students to most recently over a hundred world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit, where she performed a poem to her daughter, "Dear Matafele Peinam". Currently she lives and works in the Marshall Islands, where she teaches Pacific studies courses full time at the College of the Marshall Islands. She is also Co-Director of the youth environmentalist non-profit Jo-Jikum, which empowers youth by educating them on the importance of environmentalism and mobilizing them to work toward solutions for environmentalist issues. Check out their website: www.jojikum.org. And follow her blog for regular posts and poetry: www.kathyjetnilkijiner.com.
Lyz Soto is Co-founder of Pacific Tongues and between 2008 and 2012 she was the Executive Director of Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi. She has worked as the head coach of the Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi Slam Team from 2008 until 2012 and she is currently working towards a PhD at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she also teaches English. She has performed in Hawaiʻi and across the continental United States. She has also had the honor of traveling with Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi alumni to Aotearoa, where she had the great pleasure of performing with the South Auckland Poets Collective. Her chapbook, Eulogies, was published in 2010 by TinFish Press.
TravisT (Travis Kaulula'au Thompson): Co-Founder, since 2005. As a Pacific Islander, scholar, worker, activist, poet, mentor, and organizer with over 15 years of experience in the Honolulu spoken word poetry community, TravisT is also a co-founder of the award-winning local youth literacy non-profit known as Youth Speaks Hawaii (as seen on HBO). As a poet, he is an eight time member of the HI-slam team; the 2007 HI-slam Champ, the 2003 Red Shark Slam Jam People's Champ; and has performed his poetry on dozens of stages across the nation. He's been featured on NPR, WBAI, Pacifica, HPR, KTUH, & Olelo TV. He released a cd "The TrapperKeeperT Files" in 2007 & authored two chapbooks "Serving LIFE SENTENCES" (2003), & "the Politics of Lips" (2004). As an activist, mentor and organizer he co-founded Youth Speaks Hawaii in 2005; co-hosted "Words @ Ward Rafters", "re:VERSES", "2nd Saturdays", the "Hawaii Theatre Slam"; taught Creative Writing at Palama Settlement's ICTP and the Kapolei Juvenile Detention Center; and has has visited countless classrooms across O'ahu. He is currently pursuing his MA in Pacific Island Studies at UH Manoa,
and is a part-time raw-vegan chef.