Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Committee Member

Claudia Keelan

Number of Pages



Negative Capability is the capacity to subtract the self so that there is room to add the other. Simone Weil, John Keats, Jack Spicer and Emily Dickinson suggest that the poet ought to renounce the self so as to offer up her own voice as a sacrifice to the world. The poet who hopes to speak for others must become no Body so that she can become every Body---she must subtract so that she can add. Weil insists that in order to annihilate the self, one must pay close attention to something other than her own ego. The poet must fix her attention on her subject so much so that the identity of that subject becomes her own identity, even if only temporarily. Attention is the self's abacus. For the poet interested in Negative Capability, there is no subject, save the self, that is off-limits. As Emily Dickinson points out, poetry is the space in which negative capability can occur---it is full of doors and windows through which the ego can go out and the other can come in. The Seer's Abacus is my struggle to open all the possible windows and doors, to rid myself of myself so that I might let others speak.


Abacus; Original writing; Poetry Seer

Controlled Subject

Literature, Modern; American literature

File Format


File Size

921.6 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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