Title

Downpour

Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Ruth Ellen Kocher

Second Advisor

Julie A.. Carr

Third Advisor

Cheryl Higashida

Fourth Advisor

Marcia B.. Douglas

Abstract

Downpour mixes stark realism with oceanic mythology to reflect upon the normalized subjection of a feminine self. By exploring themes such as exploitation, bodily contamination, feminine hunger, and motherhood, Downpour inquires into the function or dysfunction of skin as boundary between the self and everything else (other people, environments, language, etc.).

This collection was inspired by the poem “i let it happen.” In this piece, the speaker’s feminine passivity is both necessary for her survival and the source of her exploitation. This tension accrues in a setting that is implicitly pornographic yet explicitly mythical. The poem made me wonder what self-harm is willed and what is unwilled. I’m not sure one can even tell the difference living in a patriarchal reality where large and small violences to women are not only acceptable but also underwritten into most ordinary interactions.

Downpour asks how much control a feminine subject in the twenty-first century actually has versus how much she only believes herself to have. The poems probe ways in which this self is rendered physically and ideologically powerless while simultaneously exerting agency through her poetic voice. Further, the poems in Downpour examine where power cedes into subjectivity and how language controls this boundary.

This collection attempts to exercise coercions reflective of those they are interrogating. Sound simultaneously unsettles and soothes the reader while white space inspires in them feelings of smallness, silence, and imposing threat. Thus, they experience the emotional world of the subject. Downpour is a swelling contemplation of social and sexual binaries: dominance/submission, subjectivity/agency, threat/relief. The poems operate on fairy tale logic; terror is menacing in its obscurity, and the implied self can only speak through poetry.

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