Mairéad Byrne emigrated from Ireland to the US in 1994, for
poetry. On the plane over, she read about the Internet for the first
time. Diversity of poetic cultures and connectivity have defined her
life ever since.
She earned an MA in American poetry (1996) and a PhD
in theory & cultural studies (2001) from Purdue University –home of
the first Computer Science Department in the US. Her poetry collections
include You Have to Laugh: New & Selected Poems (Barrow Street 2013), The Best of (What’s Left of) Heaven (Publishing Genius 2010),
Talk Poetry (Miami University Press 2007), SOS Poetry (/ubu Editions
2007) and Nelson & The Huruburu Bird (Wild Honey 2003).
Collaborations with visual artists include Jennifer’s Family,
photographs by Louisa Marie Summer (Schilt Publishing 2012), Michael
Mulcahy (Gandon Editions 1995), Eithne Jordan (Gandon Editions 1994) and Joyce – A Clew, with Henry J. Sharpe (Bluett & Co. 1982).
has taught at Purdue University, Ithaca College, the University of
Mississippi and Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs.
Since coming to RISD in 2002, she has designed and taught courses in
Material Poetics, Sound Poetry, Visual Poetry, Contemporary Poetry,
Metaphor, the Irish Comic Tradition, Writing as Art + Design and poetry
workshops at three levels. She is concentration coordinator for the academic year 2014–15.
Academic research/ areas of interest
I am increasingly interested in all
aspects of material poetics: visual, aural, all aspects of the spoken, and
performance. Live, print and
digital environments offer poetry different stakes in terms of the senses. Tone, volume, pace, noise, the body,
gesture, movement, attitude, theatricality are issues in the live arena; the
plane of the page, font, color, volume, weight, texture and relationships
between these elements are critical in print; color, light, mobility, links,
sequencing, linearity and alternative systems of reading, text and image
relationships, synesthesia: these are some of the issues in digital publication
and performance. Each environment
defines its audience too, with live performance being, counter-intuitively,
both more multiple and less local than digital or print publication, which, in different ways, are
more cloistered though widely distributed. Time,
energy, responsiveness and interactivity are defined differently in each
environment, as is humor, the matrix of my poetics.