“When you present as male, you are expected to be an alpha within the pack,” winning spoken word artist Stellar Pritchard told a crowd at a competition last Friday.
The 16-year-old from St Paul’s College in Auckland wrote her poem When You Present As Male about the expectations placed upon males and toxic masculinity.
She performed it at the annual Word Up! performance competition at the Corban Estate Arts Centre and again this morning on TVNZ1’s Breakfast.
She said it was also a poem of thanks for the people who helped her along her journey.
“When I was doing it, I was, like, really scared to open up about the story. But then, I came to the conclusion that people need to hear this and, like, to represent those like me,” she said.
Ms Pritchard, born Pulefou Vailima Sugashi Pritchard, was male but now identifies as female and goes by Stellar Pritchard or Queen B.
She said performing was about “voic[ing] your own self into existence and making space for yourself”.
“It’s really important for everyone to do and I encourage everyone to do that.”
Competition organiser Sophie Elworthy said it was both exciting and emotional for her to see the young poets.
“It’s less about the competition, but to give [young people] a voice,” she said.
“What they’re saying is deep. Their wordsmithery is incredible.”
Ms Pritchard and other Word Up! finalists will perform at the Corban's Open Arts Day in Henderson on September 28.