Abby Letteri

'We overlay our human stories onto the creatures we interact with, a tendency which is both primary and profound.'

Commenced 2021

PhD candidate Abby Letteri. (Photo supplied.)

Abby has a Masters in Creative Writing with Distinction from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). Her thesis, down they forgot: a memoir, was published by Lilith House Press in March 2021. Abby's poetry, stories, reviews and essays have appeared in various publications in the US and New Zealand, including What She Wrote: An Anthology of Women's Voices (Lilith House Press, 2020). She divides her time between a small farm on the Otaki River where she keeps several horses, and a home in town with her filmmaker husband. Life without animals is unthinkable to Abby.

'Animals aren't just repositories for human meanings, even if we unthinkingly use them to reflect our own selves and concerns. They are always more, always reminders that the world does not exist for us alone. They resist us. Behind all of our human clatter, they are entirely, and perfectly, themselves.' – Helen MacDonald

Abby writes: 'We overlay our human stories onto the creatures we interact with, a tendency which is both primary and profound. I am interested in the horse and the horse-human relationship, an uncanny partnership of prey and predator, which has powered civilisations since antiquity. My research will include a variety of sources dealing with horses, including classical texts, art, myth and literature, as well as contemporary science, philosophy, and indigenous knowledge systems to better understand how humans have regarded the horse and how this has shaped their destiny (for better or worse). I will blend this critical work with a memoiristic approach using my own experience with horses to explore how this mapping of human bias onto the horse can be resisted or recast to discover what is distinctive in the animal, forging a path to an unbiased description and deeper understanding. The work will take the form of a series of essays which cross boundaries between science and history, observation and imagining.'

Read more:

'Taking my big brother for a walk': an extract from down they forgot (Newsroom, 11 August 2021)

'How I write' (Stuff, 14 May 2021)