It was quiet in the in Northern Kentucky University’s Eva G. Farris Reading Room in W. Frank Steely Library as poet Teneice Delgado told the story of a young Irish slave girl as she traveled on an African slave ship.
On Nov. 13, Delgado told the story through her poems as she read from her chapbook “Burden of Solace.”
“It’s not a very popular topic. No one has really ever heard of this,” Delgado said.
Delgado read 10 poems in front of the group of 25 students and professors. She told the group about how she remembered spending some nights crying because of the poems.
“It is two in the morning and you’re tired but you’re writing. It is so painful but I kept writing until this character stopped talking to me,” Delgado said.
One of the poems that Delgado read was called “Not John” about the father of the Irish slave girl’s baby after she was sent to a breeding hut to be bread with African slaves.
NKU student Kayla Mitchell said that she had a certain bond with the girl from the poetry book.
“I felt a connection with her because my heritage is both African American and Irish. I can understand how she felt at the bottom of the slave trade,” Mitchell said.
NKU student Maryana Fediuk was impressed with the poetry but wished that she had gotten more context on why the poet wrote about the specific topic.
“I felt that her poetry was very strong, however, I was very confused on why she was writing what she was writing. She read some excerpts on Irish slavery but never shared with us if her background was Irish,” Fediuk said.
Delgado, an Ohio native, discussed how growing up in Akron affected what she how and what she wrote. She said that reading books is what helped developed her love to write.
“In Akron there really wasn’t much going on. Reading a lot of books was just as exciting as any other option,” Delgado said, “I think, in a way, that is good. The more that I went around and visited other places, the more I really identified with the Midwest and working class.”
To write her poems about the Irish slave trade, Delgado traveled to Manchester to speak with a scholar who specialized in trafficking.
“I hope the chapbook will start a conversation about trafficking,” Delgado said.