Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

Department

Creative Writing

First Advisor

Jordan, Judy

Abstract

In Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose, the narrator wonders, "if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to." My manuscript, The Problem of Naming is an attempt to explore the idea of home, as both a place and a people, and to affirm it is still "profoundly felt." The poems examine how abstractions such as presence and absence, grief and joy matter due to their intersection with matter: the individual body; the land, time, weather, from which that body sprung; and also the family that made a place home, its members living and dead - all of these are points of such intersection. It is the rich web of fact, myth, and story that surround a home-place that the speaker/narrator of these poems embellishes, questions, revises, and celebrates in order to make and expand meaning. And so, this is not merely an autobiographical collection about a woman who grew up on a farm and lost two grandparents in quick succession, who left farm and family only to return due to an obsessive love and need - though it encompasses this story. Rather, this story seeks, through its self-awareness, to complicate its narrative and lyrical moments through form, syntax, and content. It orchestrates a collision with fact and myth: what happened with what seemed to or should have or nearly happened.

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