Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Donald Revell

Second Committee Member

Claudia Keelan

Third Committee Member

Richard Wiley

Fourth Committee Member

Giuseppe Natale

Number of Pages

67

Abstract

It isn't an exploration in or an experiment regarding. It is a praxis, as a commute is the opposite of an adventure. As le chat regarde le poisson. As when one looks at anything, it becomes strange. That is, a thing (a thought, a feeling, Gertrude Stein's "piece of coffee") once considered becomes little and different. It is the world that is large and alike. It is ultimately the similarity, the recognition of which we, who feel small and unique in the grand scheme, find terrifying. Language is always, as Lyn Hejinian wrote, social; it is a vehicle.

As I originally conceived the title and the language that follows it, I thought of these vehicles not unlike the general sense of the vehicles in Buddhism, as a way through or across. The undulation of the other and back, the movement which constructs for one the self. As such the poem becomes a living organ, a biological extension of the poet, like a lung filling and emptying. The vehicle, which transports as in Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," not vessels, which merely contain.

In her essay "Happily," Hejinian writes, "Are you there?/ I'm here/ Is that a yes or a no?" The reaching for exactitude causes exactitude to slip away with the intent of the question and how it's received. It becomes impossible to say. And we who write poetry know to say nothing is the same as death. Such is the distance, such is the poem.

Strange Little Vehicles is the poem I have been writing for the past three years. It is incomplete. To borrow a line from "The UNLV Graduate College: General Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations," it is a "partial fulfillment of." The poem, or at least this part of the poem which I am submitting for approval, is subdivided by the asterisk symbol both as demarcation and as the essence of a line (not repetitive) of poetry. Rather than Henry James' stream of consciousness, which has for some time been regarded as a poor analogy (first by James himself), the poem proceeds in an organized manner similar to a rockslide in its rapidity and fragmentation.

This poem's orchestration includes a particular attention to the "page," in quotes, because it is an electronic page alone to which I took the compositional effort. I must refrain from commenting on the content as content is traditionally understood. From where the poem begins, or where I intended it to go, does not to me seem as important or relevant as where it is, namely its context and the reader's context, over which I have little to no influence. I will say that my concern for the poem is in its sustenance. Thinking of such monolithic works as Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and Louis Zukofsky's A, I was primarily concerned with how to keep going. As George Oppen put it, "We are committed to the problem we found, the problem we were born into--."

Lastly, I am fascinated with the sounds of words next to words, the "music" of the written word in the mind's ear as well as when spoken and its inherent illumination as a poetry which precedes authority. That is, I believe in the poem which is coming into being, sometimes, at its best, at the direction of its own sound.

I want to give something for the eye to do as well as the ear. The mind makes its own way.

Keywords

American; Experimental; Poetry; Visual

Disciplines

Poetry

Language

English


Included in

Poetry Commons

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