I am currently working on an English Lit dissertation with a concentration in poetry. I am scheduled to defend my dissertation in or before May 2023. My committee will evaluate the following: a poetry manuscript and an article-length academic essay tangential to my creative work.
My poetry manuscript is tentatively titled Wire Mother / Cloth Mother based on psychologist Harry Harlow’s primate experiments beginning in the 1950s. The poems range in form including sonnets, haibuns, sijos, and tankas. Frilled lizards, an extinct Pyrenean ibex, and a captive Bengal tiger at a Louisiana truck stop are just some of the featured animals.
In my academic essay, I argue that the goal of persona poetry for the poet, and by extension the reader, is to see oneself and the other as both a host and a stranger. I draw from Jacques Derrida’s discussion of persona in his Of Hospitality seminars from 1996 in which he describes hospitality as an inherently poetic act. Through a close reading of Patricia Smith’s 2008 collection Blood Dazzler, I argue that persona poetry is a useful mode for considering nonhuman animals because persona is an act of poetic hospitality, which centers listening and reflection.