MetadataShow full item record
AbstractWork/house is a hybrid creative-research project that explores the narratives of Irish workhouse pauper inmates during the Great Famine. The project takes on multiple forms: a chapbook printed by Salem State University, a longer manuscript draft, and a digital story told through the coding platform Twine. Research on Irish workhouses was conducted independently after partaking in a free, audio-visual tour of the former Kilkenny Union Workhouse site in July 2022, the writing happening in conjunction with research. The sixteen poems included in the chapbook (and the roughly forty poems in the manuscript, still a work-in-progress) incorporate Irish poetic forms, Irish mythology, and real narratives of pauper inmates who resided in the South Dublin and Kilkenny Union Workhouses. These inmates include Eliza Dalton, a young woman who arrived in the South Dublin workhouse at age nine, and incited uprisings with other workhouse girls; Jane Kane, who drifted in and out of that same South Dublin workhouse while working at her mother’s brothel; Thomas Kelly, a deaf and blind inmate living in the Kilkenny Union workhouse, whose death circumstances were extensively investigated by workhouse Guardians; and James Heam, who, at fourteen, appealed his unjust corporeal punishment. Other phenomena typical of the time – contraction of venereal diseases, infanticide, poverty and starvation – are referenced throughout the poems. Artistic license (such as the blurring of timelines) has been taken in the creation of themes such as hunger, reclamation of femininity and humanity in oppressive social structures, bodily autonomy, complex relationships to/with land and language, motherhood, and female friendship.
Secondary and Higher Education