Small Finds: using poetry as an archaeological process to link the lived experience of modern women with that of women living in the forts on Hadrian’s Wall at the time of Roman occupation

Ayres, Catherine Selkirk (2022) Small Finds: using poetry as an archaeological process to link the lived experience of modern women with that of women living in the forts on Hadrian’s Wall at the time of Roman occupation. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

This practice-led thesis centres around Small Finds, a new poetry collection which uses poetry as a personal archaeological process. The collection focuses solely on the women living in the forts on Hadrian’s Wall at the time of Roman occupation and links these women’s lives with those of modern women.

The research interrogates Christopher Tilley’s use of a sensory approach to landscape as a tool for interpreting ancient lived experience, and reinterprets Doreen Massey’s concept of space-time as ‘poem-space’. Set poetic forms are subverted and imagined as square quadrats, or temporary parameters, which magnify multiple vectors and draw out their silences.

The creative practice draws upon Tilley, Massey, and the metaphor of form as quadrat to develop poetry as a personal archaeological process. Sensory descriptions of the landscape around Hadrian’s Wall become a meeting ground for ancient and modern women, and set forms are used to illuminate vectors of silence in landscape, rooms, and objects, creating ‘splintered conversations’ which acknowledge the ‘holes and disconnects’ in Massey’s space-time / my ‘poem-space’ and use them as catalysts in the creative process.

A parallel strand of research explores a personal canon, or ‘poetic line’ of women poets such as Carolyn Forché, C.D. Wright, and Esther Morgan, whose work inhabits specific landscapes, passages of time, and domestic space and objects. I study key poems through the lens of both Tilley’s and Massey’s theories, and examine these women’s use of set forms, finally placing my own creative practice within this layered context.

A key figure in the poetic line is Lorine Niedecker. I use her ‘In Exchange for Haiku’ form in a non-sequential section of Small Finds to write about modern and Roman domestic objects and settings. My research concludes that, whilst all set forms can be used and subverted in order to generate poetry as an archaeological process, Niedecker’s ‘In Exchange for Haiku’ form is the most effective, as its finely-balanced elements are the ideal process for magnifying ‘poem-space’ and its silences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: creative writing, critical practice,Roman women, archaeology
Subjects: L700 Human and Social Geography
V400 Archaeology
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 10 May 2023 08:00
Last Modified: 10 May 2023 08:15
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51565

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