Title

Intimacy

Date of Award

6-2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. William Olsen

Second Advisor

Dr. Nancy Eimers

Third Advisor

Dr. Daneen Wardrop

Fourth Advisor

Richard Katrovas

Abstract

In one of his finest poems, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower," William Carlos Williams writes: "It is difficult / to get the news from poems / but men die miserably everyday / for lack / of what is found there." Earlier, his contemporary, W.H. Auden, had made his famous claim that "poetry makes nothing happen." While the views of the two great modernists appear to be at odds with each other, they are in fact two sides of the same argument, the yin and yang at the center of all true art. For what these poets saw as critical to both their work and the era in which they lived was the necessity of art as a means of survival. "Poetry makes nothing happen," because it is in itself "a way of happening," the "mouth" that brings "news of something / that concerns you / and concerns many men." What concerned both poets was the use and uselessness of poetry. One of my primary concerns as poet is the conflict inherent in the lyric voice. "Hear me out," Williams pleads, "for I too am concerned," though he, like other modernists, was acutely aware of the void into which his words dissolved. Like Williams, I too feel the overwhelming presence of the nothing that poetry makes happen, and in Intimacy, my manuscript of poems, I attempt to confront and engage with that presence. Sometimes the engagement takes the form of self-reinvention, as the experience changes the speaker in some ineluctable way. Other times, the speaker stands at the edge of the void, staring directly into it, and rather than confronting "the nothingness that is not there and the nothing that is," she faces the forces of conflict within herself. Yet throughout my work, I attempt to move beyond the realm of the personal and into the universal, the universally personal. As such, I believe many of my strongest poems speak to how women operate in the world, protecting our inner lives and carving our own identities, while confronting the forces, both internal and external, which threaten or inspire us.

Comments

5th Advisor: Anne Marie Macari

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Poetry Commons

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