Hawea Flat writer Liz Breslin’s new poems, in bed with the feminists, lie in wait for readers under a cover of embroidered daisies.
Ms Breslin’s second collection of poems has been published by Dead Bird Books and arrived in Wanaka in time for a book launch at Wanaka’s Rhyme& Reason brewery last Wednesday.
Ms Breslin’s first book of poems, Alzheimers and a spoon was published by Otago University Press and was listed as one of The Listener‘s top 100 books in 2017.
Some poems from the book won the 2020 Kathleen Gratton prize for Sequence of Poems.
Ms Breslin said it was “pretty cool” to work with small publishing companies who understood poetry.
“Working with a small press is different to self-publishing. There is great care there, and you get this amazing cover.”
The poems in her new collection centre around the theme of feminists and feminism.
She explores a wide range of topics, from attending protest marches as a child, going on road trips, technology, and uncovering historical figures such as Fanny Imlay (1784-1816).
“Fanny Imlay was the sister of Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.
“Fanny’s story is kind of erased or not known .. They even removed her name off her suicide note.”
The oldest poem in the book was from 2013, while the most recent was finished the day the publication was being formatted to go to the printers.
Ms Breslin believed some people used the word “feminist” to take other people down.
“How I am in bed with feminists is that I think the word feminism has been co-opted by misogyny, for unhealthy and unuseful names. There are some people who say they are feminists and are part of this very white, capitalist, very narrow view of feminists and feminism.
“The narrative is thinking about words that are put with it, like disaffected, joyless, feminist. And I think, f… off. I am a joyful feminist.”
Since publishing her first book in 2017, Ms Breslin has held two creative writing residencies one in Krakow, Poland, which led to a 2020 Dunedin City of Literature project, Possibilities.
Her second residency in Norwich, England, was served at home, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Winning the residencies and the 2020 Kathleen Gratton prize had given her enough income to spend time writing, as well as the confidence to keep going.
“Sometimes you don’t know if what you are doing is of interest to other people,” she said.