Liz Breslin is the 3rd prize winner for this year’s Charles Causley International Poetry Competition. Her winning poem is ‘Walk A Mile/ Stepping Out’ and was selected by our head judge Sir Andrew Motion.
As a child in the UK, Liz Breslin memorised Charles Causley’s poems, sitting in the bath. She now lives in Hawea Flat, New Zealand and writes poems, plays, stories, articles, and a fortnightly column for the Otago Daily Times. She also edits, parents, partners, skis badly, gardens sporadically, coordinates a school student volunteer programme, drinks too much coffee and loves getting her feet wet.
Liz’s first collection of poems, Alzheimer’s and a spoon, will be published by Otago University Press in 2017. She is comfy on the page and the stage, was second runner up in the 2014 New Zealand Poetry Slam in Wellington and did an audience-response poem at the 2016 TEDx Queenstown. Liz took part in the ‘52’ project in 2014, where she discovered new voices and fantastic practices. Her poems can be found in Landfall, Café Reader, Takahē and other places in NZ, overseas and online, as well as brewing in the bath. Poems give her hope, connection and stoke.
the first time she does it is on Playa El Tenis,
Matanzas, Cuba, place of the poets and the dispossessed.
this guy with teeth white enough to colonise offers her a wooden tree
for her Adidas and her feet are burning as she walks down the beach
and she gives it as a travel totem to her mum and it takes root on a window sill
in a cul de sac and it doesn’t feel the things that she does barefoot. you can
shoehorn each petal into separate gaps though there’s a way
they prefer to be ordered. but who takes a gift apart? she starts
buying second hand shoes. wait, though, no, she’s always done that. she starts
buying second hand shoes with the intention of setting them free.
there it is in black and white and none the stranger for it. the things
you can read. and this is only a stranger in stranger’s steps. look.
there are always faint prints if you look. she leaves the shoes at life’s
junctions any time there is that Robert Frost two roads conundrum, and besides
sometimes the road is more or less rocky when you don’t have protection
on your feet. in London they see you destitute. in Peru – she dreams
of Peru. left, right. left. she makes little marks on the planet like the biometric
toeprints left by that guilty guy in flour. she bleeds on cut glass, sloughs
off leather, crochide, manmade, molts layers with the next and next
pair from her feet. this one time in Geraldine, Canterbury,
New Zealand (the place her parents warned her to keep the car windows
shut because of the bad fairies) she puts worn loafers
by the playground gate. black, stitched, straight to the bars. a friend
brings them to her a week later and asks – are these yours, is it you?
Liz will receive a prize of £100. This year’s entries have been of a particularly high standard and we thank everyone who has entered. We hope you have enjoyed reading the winning poems and we look forward to sharing our five highly commended entries with you in the coming days.