Poetry is a form of feminist protest, according to Mununjali Yugambeh author Ellen van Neerven, co-host of the Victorian Women’s Trust 2020 poetry podcast Between the Leaves. On 27 April 2021, Ellen was awarded Book of the Year, Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and Multicultural NSW Award at NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for their second poetry collection, Throat.
Here, Ellen shares the books and poets that shaped the way they think about poetry and feminism — many of which feature in Between the Leaves:
Between the Leaves was jointly hosted by Ellen van Neerven and Hermina Burns, Melbourne based author of two poetry collections, Bite of a Bluebottle and Against Separation Creek (2019). Together, Ellen and Hermina curated a thematic selection of their favourite feminist texts to celebrate and illuminate the lived experiences of women and gender diverse people.
Throughout the making of this series, Ellen emphasised the importance of firmly placing poetry within the spectrum of political activism. “I write across genres, but poetry holds a special place in my heart,” says Ellen. “I see poetry as being intrinsically linked to protest — and I see myself as a literary activist.”
For Between the Leaves, Ellen and Hermina hand picked poems by writers such Dr. Maya Angelou, Wiradjuri writer Dr. Jeanine Leane, Emily Dickinson, Maxine Beneba Clarke and more, as well as other less well known poets, in the hopes that listeners will incorporate these new voices into their reading habits.