Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

5-2009

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Poetry

Department

English

Major Advisor

Martin Corless-Smith

Abstract

This thesis continues my ongoing interest with art and writing, and my concern with investigating both of them as a subject I find difficult and frightening. I manipulated, and integrated sources from various disciplines, until the major source text became accessible. Tension regarding inheriting personal and general history is a vital aspect of the work. My engagement with art and writing is in line with Max Ernst and Norma Cole. Their works exhibit the energy of collaboration between multiple mediums and forms.

The rewrites are a type of translation, interpretation; they are an alternate version of the original. The rewrites are an exercise in re-purposing and recycling, answering the question of how source texts can be rethought. When manipulating a text, I balance between the original and new voice, and more specifically, work on resolving the issue without sacrificing the intent of either voice. To better accomplish this result I looked to the erasure work of Ronald Johnson and Tom Phillips, who both take on original text with the intent of preservation as well as invention. In these pieces I have worked at keeping a constant tension between archaic and modern, in regards to diction, style and overarching themes. Also, with respect to this tension, is the process of analyzing what should stay as original, what should go, be rewritten, or added as new. I view the idea of recycling texts in relation to energy. If energy is neither created nor destroyed, and only transformed I not only feel confident, but obligated to begin with these texts.

The ‘I’ in the texts is the culmination of inherited people. The ‘I’ represents multiple generations, as an amalgamation of memory and experience. The ‘I’ also retains the essence of the original text, as well as something new, and specific to inheritance and modernity. These memories, the texts, are perhaps inherited second-hand memories. They are like a gaudy broach from your great aunt, a dusty stack of documents left to me. I am responsible for a type of preservation. The preservation of inheritance, in physical and memorial form, is a huge undertaking. The method and successful works of Brenda Coultas and Marjorie Welish influenced the subject of social inheritance in my work. I investigate how much is mine to take, how much can I leave, can I alter it, do I remain a separate entity from it, or is inheritance just the product of a child’s game of telephone? I inherit old texts, both historical and personal. I inherit history. I can’t attempt to accept the near, nonetheless the now, if I can’t immerse myself successfully in what has come before, and to understand it fully, I had to reshape it.

Also of concern is the importance of process in regards to repurposing and recycling texts. An author who creates with all the above intentions is Shin Yu Pai. Process is more valuable to me than a final product. A final product is lovely, but the finishing is fleeting and has less impact than the time spent deep in process.

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