Date of Award

12-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Comments

Submitted to the College of Graduate Studies Bridgewater State University Bridgewater, Massachusetts In partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Arts in English

Degree Program

English

Degree Type

Masters of Arts in English

Abstract

The poems in this creative collection, Violet is one letter off from violent, aim to add to the critical conversation in contemporary poetry about violence, women’s anger, patriarchal oppression, and physical and sexual assault, specifically drawing on analyses from the poetry of Rachel McKibbens, Tarfia Faizullah, Emily Skaja, Erika L. Sánchez, Tracy K. Smith, Safiya Sinclair, and Paisley Rekdal. My myriad speakers, who take both first and third person points of narrative view, reclaim and reproduce their own stories in ways that are complex, vulnerable, and angry as a result of living under and through traumatic experiences in domestic and public spheres. However, this reclamation of power written in poetic verse from marginalized people and survivors is not a new realization or discovery in contemporary poetry and literary studies, as the poets above have demonstrated in their works. Extending this discourse, my collection adds to the conservation by positioning the international museum—whose history I show is inherently violent—aiming to present how it is another vehicle, and historically White institution, through which aggression and violence shape and control female and BIPOC bodies, particularly women who have been pushed to the margins. As Gaby Porter posits in her essay, “Seeing through Solidarity: a feminist perspective on museums,” the sheer act of classification and categorization stemming from the masculine tradition of rationale and order derivative of the Enlightenment era allows us to turn to a critical, feminist lens in museum display and collections to show how “these practices appear to construct and maintain the male order with woman at its margins” (112). The opening poem of my collection, “Self-Portrait as the Museum,” then demonstrates the speaker’s positionality as a metaphorical embodiment of the museum and its practice. Her 2 reclaiming comes in her ability to reproduce traumatic memories, “to circle / the shapes slowly like rosaries, mother [her] violet / body gone to bone.” In the end, both she and the museum are the result of “violent making,” but power resides in her ability to assert control over her memories and history. Acceptance lies in the unknown and the known, the ability to speak through years of silencing. This poem introduces the reader to the mirroring and blending of spaces and bodies, which cements this collection. To emphasis this connection, I have broken the book into three, main sections, or “Galleries” to structure the book as if one is walking through a museum’s exhibits.

Committee/Advisor(s)

Dr. Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Dr. Halina Adams

Professor John Mulrooney

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