Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Threshold

Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.F.A. in Creative Writing

Department

English

First Advisor

Beth Ann Fennelly

Second Advisor

Mary Hayes

Third Advisor

Ann Fisher-Wirth

Abstract

The poems contained in this thesis were written and substantially revised over the last three years. Central to the thesis is an exploration of various thresholds or transitions, both literal and metaphorical. These transitions include the main speaker's journey from childhood to adulthood, from the American Midwest to the American South, and from singleness to marriage. This thesis also contains poems about the journeys of others, from the Irish Papar to a runaway teenager to Rapunzel, and these journeys echo the main speaker's journeys. Collectively, many of these poems deal with notions of enclosure and escape, of protection and danger. Anchoritic impulses coexist with poems of travel across foreign landscapes. Place is an essential component of the thesis, and local environment--both natural and manmade--influences the mood and lyrical meditations of many of these poems. What is possible to be expressed on the island of Maui is different than what is possible to be expressed at an English train station. The thesis is ordered in a loosely chronological fashion based on the main speaker's life. The first section explores fairy tales and nursery rhymes, adolescence, and the power of story; the second section contains poems of isolation and a need for meaning or feeling; the third section involves poems of excess; the fourth section explores the notion of home; the fifth section investigates the tension between new adulthood and memories of an increasingly distant past; and the sixth section takes up early marriage and its struggles.

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