Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present

Several years ago, I was approached by Choctaw poet LeAnne Howe and Dr Padraig Kirwan of Goldsmiths, University of London. They explained that they were working on compiling a book of academic essays by Choctaw and Irish writers, focusing on the generous gift sent by LeAnne’s ancestors to ours during the famine.  Having long been intrigued by the complex connection between the Choctaw and Irish peoples, I was eager to learn more. LeAnne and I decided to collaborate on a new sequence of poems, focusing on this extraordinary moment in our shared history, poems that became a collaborative pamphlet, a conversation across the Atlantic, across cultures, and across time. As LeAnne says, these are “poems dedicated to our ancestors, the Irish and the Choctaws who lived and died through the hunger years, suffering at the hands of colonialism.” The poems themselves are trilingual, allowing English to form a bridge between our own native languages. Now this sequence of poems has been published in a new book, edited by LeAnne and Padraig, and titled ‘Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present.’ It’s a beautiful collection of essays and poems published by Michigan State University Press, and includes a foreword from our President, Michael D. Higgins. Further information on this project is available in a piece by Pádraig here, and in a piece by LeAnne here.