Title

nothing is porcelain here

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Margarita Pintado

Second Advisor

Dr. Johnny Wink

Third Advisor

Dr. Angela Douglass

Abstract

Writing is just something that happened to me, as it has for a great deal of people. I grew up in a house full of words: the chatter of my older sisters, my parents' words of love and frustration, the lyrics to my favorite N'Sync and Hannah Montana songs, and the familiar, pervasive presence of the television that strives to unite many a mildly dysfunctional family. I loved to read, too. As the youngest child, I became quite skilled at passing time in the backseat, riding to and from my sisters' extracurricular activities and waiting in lobbies or hushed hallways until they finished their music lessons. Whether Harry Potter, Dear America, or the latest trend in teen fiction, I made sure to bring a book with me almost everywhere.

Yet, I hardly expected to do much with words myself. I didn't really plan to be a writer, not until recently. I loved my English classes, but typically confined any creative efforts to the perimeters of homework assignments. Before deciding -- with the encouragement of a truly wonderful high school teacher -- to pursue a degree in the humanities, I aspired to work in the natural sciences, first as a veterinarian, then a biologist or a doctor. Still, I find science beautiful and inspiring.

As a young adult struggling through issues of identity, loss, and mental illness, I scoured the web for poetry that offered catharsis. Then I took up a pen and started searching for my own voice, which, I quickly realized, l did not know. What came out first was awful, overwrought, over-rhymed. The process, however, drew me in. My writing grew with me as I became more fully human and learned to grow as an individual outside of my obsessive compulsive disorder. Writing helped me -- and still does -- come to terms with the beautiful, terrifying vastness of life. It had led me to honor its delicious messiness.

I feel most like myself on paper and recognize that self more readily now. In these thirty poems are some of the bits and pieces, voices and stories that have helped shape her. Here are Pound, Eliot, Stomi, Cummings, Rilke, Graham, and The Bcatles alongside my family, my friends, and my relationship to my body, my mind, childhood, womanhood, the church, and the landscape.

My intent was for the book to "zoom out" as it progressed. The first section, "save the color of my bones," looks outward from some of the most intimate parts of the individual and explores tensions between the body, age, femininity, desire, and the self. "Wisteria" expands to themes of faith, family, and childhood, looking backward and forward at the same time, while "headlights" examines the present moment and looks ahead to the future. "Mud" continues to look forward, while also expanding tensions of time into tensions of location and space. Finally, "like love notes" examines the self in relation to contemporary events and culture and in relation to death. At the same time, the final two poems "zoom back in" as they look at the individual as a collage of small parts, from earlobes to DNA.

It has been a joy to complete this project. When I first proposed the idea of publishing a collection of poetry, it seemed abstract and, well, daunting. This is what I wanted to do, I was sure, but what if I couldn't?What if it simply didn't come together into a cohesive work? What if it was just bad? I wound up either throwing out or seriously revising all of the pieces extant when I began this project. I thought that I had found my voice, but as I kept writing, I realized I still had more digging to do. With the guidance of my mentors, I have grown and truly begun to find my voice as a writer. As I kept writing, the collection found its shape.

So, here it is. I hope you, reader, find something meaningful reflected here.

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