Poet launches second collection of work

Hawea Flat writer and Otago Daily Times columnist Liz Breslin’s new book of poetry, in bed with the feminists, lies in wait for readers with a pretty cover of embroidered daisies.

Ms Breslin’s second collection of poems has been published by Dead Bird Books and arrived in the nick of time for a book launch at Wanaka’s Rhyme & Reason brewery on Wednesday night.

"It is so pretty. I didn’t see it until [Wednesday]," Ms Breslin said of the cover designed by her friend, Lucinda King.

"Because of all the weather and stuff, they were held up. That’s not usual. It is so cool to be able to hold it."

Wanaka poet Liz Breslin has launched her second book of poetry, in bed with the feminists. PHOTO:...
Wanaka poet Liz Breslin has launched her second book of poetry, in bed with the feminists. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Ms Breslin’s first book of poems, Alzheimer’s and a spoon was published by Otago University Press and was listed as one of The Listener’s top 100 books in 2017.

Some of the poems from this year’s 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 about poetry performance.

"Working with a small press is different to self-publishing. You feel like you are part of a family of the publisher. There is great care there, and you get this amazing cover. You are able to get the right community around you and are not part of a machine," she said.

The poems in her new collection are tied together 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 with friends, technology, and uncovering historical figures such as Fanny Imlay.

The oldest poem in the book was one she wrote in 2013, while the most recent poem was finished on the day the publication was being formatted to go to the printers.

"The designer was incredibly patient with me."

Ms Breslin says her second publication is completely different to her first — a tangled web of personal tales, experiences with memory, and online quizzes.

She believes some people use the word "feminist" to shout other people down.

"One of the things I am interested in, and 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.

I am a joyful feminist ... And it is not enough to say you are a feminist. What are you going to do about it? So one thing I can do is think about it and write about it," she said.

Since publishing her first book in 2017, Ms Breslin has held two creative writing residencies.

One was in Krakow, Poland, which led to a 2020 Dunedin City of Literature project, Possibilities.

Her second residency was in Norwich, England, but was served at home because of travel restrictions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Breslin spent much time watching a peregrine nest through a camera installed on the top of Norwich Cathedral.

It was an activity she believed people who watch videos of Dunedin’s royal albatrosses would understand and it spawned new writing about "all different kinds of voyeurism". She still occasionally returns to the site to see how the birds are getting on.

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.

Ms Breslin and other poets will perform their works at a Dead Bird Books event at ADJO in Dunedin next Friday.

- Marjorie Cook

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