Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. William Olsen


This collection of poetry, Little to No Stars, holds poems that often represent the landscape, language, mannerisms, and way of life of the peoples of the Appalachian region of Virginia. In many ways, I view Little to No Stars as a re-visitation to various parts of my childhood, that still linger, where the experiential emotional tension is often balanced, if not countered, by the presence of recurrent landscapes captured and explored in images. I think my work strives for that flow into and within and without the world of the poem. Childhood and the past are alternatively immediate and distant, constantly informing the present self. If there is a spiritual concern in the work it's with the dead, but only in so far as I view them as a necessarily stabilizing presence and not a mystery to be solved, but not wished into terrible being, nor wished away. If the dead exist it's because the mountains and fields and birds exist. Because we do. That is a great mystery, but not one to be "solved" as Proust warns. Conjuring the past is conjuring a mode of thought, as writer and as reader: like entering Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns, or James Wright's Ohio, or Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality." The images of the past are the signposts and landmarks in the dream of the poetry. But where we ultimately arrive is not altogether up to the poet's design.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access