Hayley Singer teaches contemporary eco-fictions and feminist ecologies of writing at the University of Melbourne. She received a grant for “Lives Not Livestock: A Public Narrative Project.” This project aimed to investigate the role of farm animal sanctuaries during extreme climate disaster via recorded interviews and participatory research at sanctuary sites that have experienced disaster. She writes:
This project intends to bring about cultural, social and even political change through narrative activism, shifting national narratives of farmed animals and their treatment from ‘risk’ and ‘deficit’ to: the suffering of farmed animals; transitions from animal agriculture into plant-based economies; and greater support for animal sanctuaries who are overburdened, under-resourced, and dealing with extreme climate events.
Hayley completed a draft of the pilot episode for “Lives Not Livestock: A Public Narrative Project” from interviews she’s had with survivors of the 2019 and 2020 wildfires in Australia. These interactions with sanctuary managers, animal scholars, and animal carers, Hayley wrote, taught her a lot about the recorded interview process and garnered new collaborative connections and skills that she hoped to use when producing future audio works. Hayley, like many grantees, was forced to adapt her project due to the COVID-19 pandemic: “Given the restrictions of COVID-19 this project shifted from an embodied and participatory proposal to a distanced and digital proposal.”
In 2023, Hayley published Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead. Hayley calls the prose poem a “thanatography” that “works to invoke the unnamed dead.” These include not only whose lives were lost to COVID-19, but those caught up in the the everyday horrors of slaughterhouses and the collapse of biodiversity caused by human behavior and the climate crisis.
You can follow Hayley’s work here, and listen to her interview with the late Siobhan O’Sullivan on the Knowing Animals podcast. Hayley was also interviewed on the Knowing Animals podcast (July 3, 2017). Listen to it here.