Award Date

5-1-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Claudia Keelan

Second Committee Member

Donald Revell

Third Committee Member

Emily Setina

Fourth Committee Member

Giuseppe Natale

Number of Pages

87

Abstract

Williams Carlos Williams changes the landscape of American poetry when he declares “a poem can be made out of anything because it is made out of words,” that it’s a “small or large machine.” This statement implies two important sentiments for me as a poet—one, that reading is democratic, and two: that the material of the poem is itself democratic. By the first I mean, as Williams observes, that to read a poem all one must do is read the words in the order they appear on the page. By the second, I mean, also as Williams observes, anything can be the subject of a poem, anything is worthy of becoming an art object. A cat eating out of some garbage can. Looking at a blackbird. A red wheelbarrow. Art isn’t strictly regulated to the academy, it’s returned to the public, where poetry began, as it stands with its mouth open at the entrance of a temple called life, contemplating, musing, uttering, inhaling. This is part of the genesis of this book—what might it be like to write a public poem, what might it be like to write a poem for other people, who might those people be, what might my sound sound like out loud, how is my sound taken into the anonymous body I imagine to be the reader. The body is perhaps the most direct way the state or any system of power seeks to first assert control. The body, especially the female body (I say this speaking from one, but really can there be any true value in the sexual polarization of activity?), is always in this very violent waiting room, waiting to see what we are allowed, waiting to see if we are appropriate, waiting to see if we can move from one liminal space to the next. The question then becomes, for me, how far the authorial “I” can speak against power structures, implied by the epic as a form, even as the poet, disappearing into the poem, is uncertain about these structures. The moment when the reader is let into the possibility of the poem—how does a line (the visual experience of a poem) live the experience of my life, how is it invested in the details of my daily rituals, my language, my breathing—is what this book is on a quest to figure out, or at least to ruminate in. Other ruminations: repetition, ritual, accruing, accretion, the wild, nature, sacrifice, tenderness.

Disciplines

Creative Writing

Language

English

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2020


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