“Men and women are either subject to the state’s authority, or they are not; and if they are subject they must be given a say,
and ultimately an equal say, in what that authority does”.
—Michael Walzer, quoted in Linda Bosniak. The Citizen and The Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership. Princeton UP, 2006.
Certain Individual Women responds to inherent gender biases in Irish law and society, and unduly onerous restrictions on bodily autonomy formerly represented in the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. Combining lyric sequence with docupoetry, Morrissy draws on her background in law, creative writing, and activism (as co-founder of X-ile Project). The poem features three distinct but overlapping elements: two personae, one based on the poet’s own experiences, particularly relating to return to Ireland after living for many years North America, and one based on her grandmother (named “Fra” in the poems) who grew up and lived on the geographical and political border of northern and southern Ireland in the mid-twentieth century. The persona poems use subject-centered lyric, and appear alongside a series of experimental docupoems constructed from Irish legal texts, and arising from Morrissy’s legal training. Through an aesthetic of interruption, Certain Individual Women poses questions about women’s access to power and gender-based discrimination throughout various generations and with regard to Irish law, currently and historically. Poems from this project have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review, Winter Papers, gorse, The North, Bath Magg and Law and Literature: The Irish Case.
Certain Individual Women is also staged as live performance that integrates animation, image and performative elements. All performances are made in collaboration with Toronto-based Irish artist Annick Counihan. The first performance took place at Phonica Nine, Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. New performances are forthcoming in 2019 and 2020.