Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Daneen Wardrop

Second Advisor

Dr. Curtis Rhodes

Third Advisor

Dr. William Olsen


The poems in this manuscript can be sorted into two distinct, but compatible, categories. First, a series of narrative poems attempt to challenge Edgar Allen Poe’s dictum that an American poet cannot successfully write a poem longer than 100 lines. These poems approach coherent subjects through disjunctive forms. There is non-linear and linear movement in these poems that meander along in an attempt to capture a witnessed scene along with the action of making sense of that witnessing. There is a process of breaking the familiar and coherent down into something strange, then reconstituting it again into something newer and unfamiliar.

The other direction of my work follows in the tradition of James Wright, Richard Hugo, and Elizabeth Bishop. In these compressed meditative, lyrical poems, I attempt to write a poem of location that illuminates the thoughts of the mind interacting with the world around it Instead of responding to any sort of exigency, these poems work to capture the mind as it explores the intricacy and malaise of the urban landscape.

In my attempt to create poems as large and rich and complicated as the world around me, I’ve discovered that the facile distinctions made between differing schools of poetry are a hindrance to my ambitions. My work aspires to move past the easy categories of deep image, realism, surrealism, language, or wit and rejects the false duality of open versus closed form. My poems are written in a variant of Wordsworth’s “language of men,” but within that language I want to find more room for the alchemy and excitability that exists within the parameters of spoken American speech. The 20th century American poet who greatly influences these poems is William Carlos Williams.

I want to create a new poetics that is as vibrant and eclectic as Postmodern America. I hope these poems might serve as some kind of document o f this moment in history and help some future reader to better understand all its abundances of beauty and abjectness, simplicity and complexity, and joy and sorrow.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Poetry Commons