Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Liz Breslin wins Kathleen Grattan Poetry Prize for a Sequence of Poems

road trip with the feminists

rage at mapgirl for being in Imperial

ignore her directions at the lights

the fastest way out of Christchurch

is/ is not \ is just through / fuck it 

mapgirl’s right 

stop for coffee \ wash out the keepcup

stand in line for a soy flat white

order cheese rolls / a rhubarb muffin

ginger slice \ it’s nearly lunch / it’s

roughly time

the baby blue nail varnish stuck

behind the seat \ the car fills up

with local rags / napkins \ op shop

treasures ticked off the manifestation list

it’s the trick

of attraction / at least one of the feminists

has a hangover that another drink

will fix \ the plains go on as long / long

long as the conversation \ ranging

outside, the rain

the wipers don’t have the right speed set

slow / the screen splotches opaque \quick

sweep / \ / \ / crank the tunes

no rhythm is for keeps but we’ll always

have the road

Liz Breslin

“Her-storical” sequence of poems wins national award

Liz Breslin from Wanaka has been announced as the 2020 winner of the Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, in a prize-giving ceremony on Auckland’s North Shore.

The competition is organised annually by writing group, International Writers Workshop (also known as IWW.)

Breslin has won the $1,000 prize for her sequence of poems, entitled: “In bed with the feminists.”

The competition was judged by 2019’s award winner, well-known Auckland poet, writer and lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, Siobhan Harvey.

Harvey read two of the poems from Breslin’s sequence at the award ceremony.

On receiving her award Breslin said: “I was so surprised and delighted to get the call to say I’m this year’s winner. I worked on these poems during a period on my own in lockdown, so it’s really affirming to see them recognised outside my head and my house.”

Harvey judged the competition commended Breslin’s winning entry… “for its unapologetic voice, clear vision and assured awareness.”

Harvey continued: “The her-storical narratives and creativity make this a compelling lyrical analysis of feminism both in the contemporary age and in the past.”

The runner-up was announced as Sophia Wilson from Dunedin for her sequence of poems titled “Attempting to Land.” In judging Wilson’s piece, Harvey described the sequence as “a stunningly beautiful ode to migration.”

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems competition has been run by IWW for twelve years and Breslin joins a list of winners including Siobhan Harvey, Maris O’Rourke and Michael Giacon.

In addition to the prize given to Breslin, IWW presented awards to the winners of its other 2020 writing competitions. The breadth of competitions the writing group organises is very wide as evidenced by awards for Crime Writing, Flash Fiction and Play writing.

At the conclusion of the formal prize giving, the winning play – “Text or Subtext” written by Auckland member John Leyland – was performed by members of the group.

About the Prize

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems has been made possible by a bequest from the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust. It was a specific request of the late Jocelyn Grattan that her mother be recognised through an annual competition in recognition of her love for poetry and that the competition be for a sequence or cycle of poems with no limit on the length of the poems.

This is the eleventh year IWW has had the honour of organising the Prize.

Previous winners are Siobhan Harvey (2019), Heather Bauchop (2018), Janet Newman (2017), Michael Giacon (2016) Maris O’Rourke (2015), Julie Ryan (2014), Belinda Diepenheim (2013), James Norcliffe (2012), Jillian Sullivan (2011) Janet Charman and Rosetta Allan (joint winners 2010) and Alice Hooton (2009).

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems is sometimes referred to as the ‘Little Grattan’ as the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust also funds the biennial Kathleen Grattan Award, run by Landfall / Otago University Press.

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