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Public. Open. Space.

Public. Open. Space.

Author: Kate Larsen

Publisher: Fremantle Press

Published: August 2023

Within this collection, Larsen thoughtfully examines our connections, not only in the digital realm but also in real life, with a specific focus on the challenges faced by women and non-binary individuals as they coexist within these spaces, often hindered by metaphorical “firewalls”. Throughout the collection, the motif of “firewalls” symbolises the societal and personal barriers that confine and restrict these individuals. The act of “opening” these firewalls through poetry signifies the pursuit of inclusivity, representation, and empowerment.

Larsen offers a distinctive perspective on topics rooted in feminism yet extending to broader political and interpersonal concerns. Her work guides readers through the complex landscapes of our modern world, urging us to engage in the critical dialogues of our time.

A personal favourite from this collection was “Our Revolution” which, to me, embodies and encapsulates the core of the feminist element in the collection.

Our Revolution

“Our revolution knows when to stay quiet
and is used to not being heard.

Our revolution is polite and orderly
and doesn’t want to disturb.

Our revolution helps soothe others’ hurts
and dries others’ tears before our own.

Our revolution knows how to mind manners
and when to swallow our words.

Our revolution is used to being burned.


Our revolution uses initials
to sell books with less female names.

Our revolution straps down our curves
so they’re not used against us again.

Our revolution takes a packed lunch
and is home in time for tea.

Our revolution won’t poop on the party
and doesn’t want to rain on the parade.

Our revolution is used to taking the blame.

Our revolution is listening.
Our revolution is making a list.

Our revolution is waiting
and won’t upset the relatives.

Our revolutions cleans house.”

Through a fusion of evocative language and thought-provoking imagery, Kate Larsen crafts a compelling exploration of contemporary issues that captivates and challenges readers. The potential of Public. Open. Space. to ignite conversations and kindle empathy makes it a significant addition to the realm of contemporary poetry.

Reviewed by Jess Checkland

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