Dwellings in the Mold

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Date

2022

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Abstract

Dwellings in the Mold displays an exhibition of private strife against impositions of public or social imperatives. Whether the speakers of the poems are contending with the strangeness and cruelties of self or of other, members on each side of internal and social conflicts are dignified by and complicated within aesthetic frameworks intended to establish English ideals. Forms often subverted within the manuscript are pre-classical forms such as epic verse, classical forms such as the sonnet, and modern forms such as poetic prose. For example, works like “We Left School,” a long meter poem in response to Gwendolyn Brook’s poem in rhymed couplets, “We Real Cool,” seeks to explore the ways in which long meter, a form initiated in verse to paraphrase Psalms and to compose church hymns, can distinguish and attribute a degree of sacredness to the experience of at least one of the unidentified and troubled figures in Brooks’ poem. Using long meter, I exploited the narrative completeness of quatrains to invoke a distinct series of events in which the character’s feelings could unfold and be made human and complicated through lyric expression. Lyric tools that I found especially useful for accomplishing are the dualistic sonic and conceptual contrasts between end-rhymes and the compounding of meaning results from the enjambment of syntactically complete phrases. It is with this degree of intentionality that I pair subjects with forms throughout the manuscript, seeking, in each opportunity, to express or clarify something about the inseparability of humility from dignity, tradition from reform, violence from silence, and beauty from the grotesque as experienced in individual and collective human conditions.

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