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‘No One Asked Her Why’

‘No One Asked Her Why’ is a unique interactive art installation created by poet and writer Katie Flaxman for The Black Shuck Festival gallery exhibition 2023, offering a new perspective on the traditional Black Shuck myth. 

It is a spoken word storytelling piece offering an origin story to the myth using

feminist, motherhood, grief, and climate narratives. It is immersive with the participant accessing the installation through interaction with only the title of the piece on the wall, a pair of headphones and a simple button to begin the recording.

You can listen to Katie read her piece here:

No one asked her why,

full of rage, she tore inside,

scorched two marks on the skyward beam.

A fair exchange for two souls.

Two Souls.

Those same clawless footprints found inside her den,

stole wolf daughters,

dropped them in the quickening river,

currents whirling with unseasonal rains.

Those same clawless footprints 

who hung deer carcass over hearth 

and wisened witches from ancient boughs.

They tore into her holy place,

his child, cupping hers against his chest.

She ran.

Silent paws, teeth barred, body frail from abandoned hunt.

The clay mud too heavy, 

her desperate howls stolen by the wind still blowing her voice.

No one asked her why.

Violent storm burst open a second set of doors,

grief bleeding from her bones.

Surely here would kneel their own wolf mothers?

But there, in the pews, withered wilderness,

knelt dogs not wolves; tamed and obedient.

Wolves would not have let the fists, 

blunt instruments

break her bones as they had done her heart.

She tore their limbs to save her own,

eyes ablaze with tears run dry.

Black Shuck, they called her, scucca, skuh.

Naming her their terror to overlay their own devils.

Her wretched grief fed her until she was the size of it,

grey fur drained to black by starless sky.

No one asked her why,

laid a soft hand on coarse fur,

soothed the cold ache running through her veins.

Nothing but mist blanketed her.

Nothing but fury offered its warmth.

She runs still. Runs the coastal pathways,

raging, voiceless, achingly weak.

Despair, searching for her daughters,

two souls,

stolen by two souls,

lost between river and sea.

by Katie Flaxman


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