Review: in bed with the feminists by Liz Breslin

September 21

Perhaps to the general public poetry can be less than accessible, resident inside a system of its own, comparable to mathematics or haute cuisine. We all know what it is, but maybe we don’t know how to read it, or we fear opening a book of poems will find us in over our proverbial heads.

Enter in bed with the feminists, within which Liz Breslin has masterfully moved poetry from the esoteric domain into a realm truly approachable by the novice reader, and yet smacking of talent to the poetry crowd.

A founder and long-time veteran of the Wānaka poetry scene, Liz’s voice is chatty and challenging; she uses humour, streams of thought, shapes, technology, and constraints to accomplish approachability. The collection presents moments of love and landmarks of life anyone might recognise. Alongside these, Liz weaves jokes within jokes, wields wit as a sharp stiletto against misogyny’s tired expectations, and even in melancholy a smile might curl your lip.

Throughout the collection, Liz plays with words and the rigors of poetic form, and there’s a rush of satisfaction as each one works. In Writing outside a room of one’s own, Liz expertly shapes a piece around blank spaces, then finds a way to fill those spaces without breaking her self-imposed rules.

Being in bed with feminism here is being in a positive place. In she makes a tiny plait in the growing out hair across the front of my face, we peek at a private moment of sweetness while the poem on the page reflects its own content, a sculptural form and repeated “& I”s crafting a plait of words. The feeling of “oh fuck you” does emanate from pieces such as ‘you’ve got male’, ‘what she needs’ and ‘Which predictions were inappropriate?’, but overall Liz’s feminism is ebullient, an achievement, a refusal of assumptions and an acceptance of ongoing personal discovery. -JT


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