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In small rooms




Naughton, Kathleen, author
Steensen, Sasha, advisor
Beachy-Quick, Dan, committee member
Lehene, Marius, committee member

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The form the language of these poems takes is linked and cannot be separate from how it means to mean. In some ways, the poems are "about" the language used to talk about the most mundane and universal human experiences—love, loss, aging, death, the passage of time, the interaction with place, the persistent idea, if not presence, of the sacred or ineffable, constructions of the self and how the relationships with those closest to us, with place, with age the passing of time, become a part of that sense of who we are. The sonnet-poems are the core work of the manuscript, and that they don't want to pause at all to explain themselves, to focus themselves. They refuse to consider where they're coming from and where they're going, they refuse narrative, they try (impossibly) to contain everything each time in each 14 lines, over and over, and always fail. This compression feels necessary to getting every everything up next to each other consistently; it also feels necessary to let myself as poet know that it will all be over soon, which is probably also important to the reader. Important because the poems are dizzying and stressful to read and it seems necessary for the sanity of all involved that we know that our engagement will be a limited one; important, too, because these poems are terrified by time, mortality, what happens at the end, and the series of small poems gives the work an opportunity to practice the end over and over and over. And practice beginning over and over and over. I don't think these poems are about reincarnation, but perhaps they are about the many deaths and rebirths within a single human life, and about the human on an ecological scale, in which one human lifetime is just one start and end in a series of continuous starts and ends.


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