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To Not Die of History – A Lecture with Cherry Smyth

‘We have poetry so that we do not die of history,’ Meena Alexander

How can we make remembering performative rather than reproductive, move from what Svetlana Boym calls restorative nostalgia to reflective nostalgia?

This seminar will draw on Famished (Pindrop Press, 2019) Cherry Smyth’s book-length poem that explores the Irish Famine (1845-52) and how British imperialism helped cause mass starvation and the largest refugee crisis of the 19th century.

Inspired by the current migrant crisis, which evokes the ‘coffin ships’ that crossed the Atlantic, Famished details the impact of the Famine on women particularly and how famine followed the Union Jack. If the Famine happened now, the Irish would be in the boats, prevented from landing on the shores of the UK.

The seminar will outline the role of dehumanisation central to all famines and the postcolonial legacy of trauma, silence and shame. Cherry will also discuss her collaborative performance with a musician and vocalist to create the power of collective lament.

‘Because I didn’t know what a million was, I started to count.
Because I couldn’t believe the silence, I started to carry stones,
seeking somewhere to set them, make a structure, a steadying wall.’
from Famished

Watch a clip of Cherry Smyth's performance of Famished

Date Tuesday, 29 October 2019
Time 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Audience Public
Event Category Humanities
Event Type Public Lecture
DepartmentCentre for Irish and Scottish Studies
LocationMoot Court Lecture Theatre (10th floor Richardson Building, Dunedin campus)
Contact NameEmer Lyons, Irish Studies Research Assistant

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