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Meet Aife Murray, author of Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson's Life & Language

New Haven Free Public Library

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM (EDT)

Meet Aife Murray, author of Maid as Muse: How Servants...

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Aífe Murray examines the relationship of silence and voice, describing how Margaret Maher, an Irish immigrant domestic worker, influenced the work of her employer, poet Emily Dickinson. By rendering visible and audible that which has been blurred and muffled,  Murray recovers the personal and linguistic exchange between poet and servant that speaks volumes about how art takes shape in the realities of daily life.

 

Copies of MAID AS MUSE will be available for sale and signing.

 

About this project: For over a dozen years, I’ve been investigating notions of silence and voice  through prose, poetry, installation, mixed form, performance, and a non-fiction book.

This project – Kitchen Table Poetics — takes as its signature figures maid Margaret Maher and her poet Emily Dickinson.

It began when I was standing in the library’s main reading room* wondering how Emily Dickinson could have been so prolific. In answer to my question a Dickinson biography I was holding fell open to a photograph of three servants. I ran headlong into this project.

In 1997 I created and led my first public walking tour of the town of Amherst, Massachusetts from the perspective of the Dickinson servants under the auspices of the Mead Art Museum which had mounted the exhibition Language as Object: Emily Dickinson and Contemporary Art.

A servant descendant and the house cleaners and landscape gardeners,  working currently at the Emily Dickinson Homestead, helped me narrate the tour. They also collaborated with me on the artist book Art of Service which became part of my installation, Pantry DRAWer, for the Mead Museum exhibit.

I re-created the servant walking tour while in residence at the Emily Dickinson Museum in October 2004, re-naming it Margaret Maher’s Amherst.  I also met with the museum guides to help them integrate servants into their tours.

I have received support for this project from the Northeast Modern Language Association, Money for Women/Deming Foundation, The Irish American Cultural Institute, and the Emily Dickinson International Society (Scholar in Amherst 2007) . I was fortunate to have been made an affiliated scholar with Stanford’s Institute Research On Women and Gender and awarded a residency at Djerassi where much writing and research were conducted.

--Aife Murray

more information at www.maidasmuse.com

Have questions about Meet Aife Murray, author of Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson's Life & Language? Contact New Haven Free Public Library

When & Where

133 Elm St.
New Haven, 06510

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM (EDT)


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New Haven Free Public Library

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