Thesis Break-Through!

Goodness, goodness. So I met with Mady today to go over how I had attempted to organize my thesis. Wow! She really opened up my eyes and came at the organizing of it with method that really made sense to me. I had everything as I explained in the previous post, and although some of that ordering made sense, she was able to see that there are four clear sections or movements of the text. Because of this, it didn’t make sense to have the lover poems at the beginning of the book because the first section was about a certain way of seeing/being a child. Therefore, I am going to take her advice and arrange the poems according to her method, which really just moved some things around, and separated the movements–but the basic trajectory I was trying to get at still stands to an extent. So I am glad that I wasn’t completely off the mark. It also meant that it’s time for me to eliminate certain poems that just don’t have as much power, weight, movement, etc. Thankfully, these are the poems that I wasn’t feeling super strongly about, so they just don’t need to be in there. Meeting with her today really opened up my understanding of my work as a collection and I think will bring the work into a much more readable space as a whole. Which is obviously the goal since I want to get the book published. So, thank you, Mady for helping me when I really needed it! I knew her sense of narrative would really bring light to the ordering of my poems. 

Feeling like I know what the next step is before I turn the work in for my rough draft, as well as to upcoming first book contests.



Thesis Business

It’s that time of year, when second year writing MFAs have to get their shit together and complete their theses. Well, I have to say that mine is going well. The rough draft is due in a couple of weeks and I feel that I have a solid manuscript to turn in to my mentor. I have finally put the poems into a working order, which is actually really difficult (and I’ll explain in a bit), and have submitted it to my second reader/ other mentor for her opinion on it holistically before I officially turn in the rough draft. 

There are various ways to order a poetry manuscript: thematically, temporally, narratively, etc. I have chosen to go with a narrative construction because of the nature of the work. It’s not a collection of disparate poems, as many MFA theses are, but rather, it is trying to be a cohesive book. One that tells a story, which is that of a girl coming of age–in the physical sense and perceptually, intellectually, spiritually, romantically. All that. 

My process for creating the order went like this: put poems of a similar subject or theme into piles. So the piles looked like: Grandmother poems, lover poems, mom poems, dad poems, childhood poems, pubescent poems/awakening poems, adult poems. Within each pile I put them in chronological order. The largest piles were the grandmother and the lover poems, respectively. Then I began putting them together. Since there are so many lover poems, I didn’t want to only put them toward the second half since that would make sense chronologically because I thought it would backload the book and weigh it down. So, from the start, the childhood narrative (including that of the interactions with the grandmother) run parallel to the lover relationships. So there are kind of 3 arcs all happening at once in the book: the arc of the relationship with the grandmother, from my childhood and on past when my grandmother dies, the arc of my/the speaker’s life from childhood to adulthood, and the arc of the romantic relationships, from being younger and stupider and more willing to tolerate bad men, to now, with my sweet boyfriend. Phew–does that make sense? I hope so. We’ll see what my second reader says. Hopefully she can help me shuffle them around if it isn’t working. 

I didn’t think sections worked for this book–I also didn’t want to clump stuff together just because it dealt with the same issue–I thought the work would be more resonant if it built an arc so that things you learn early on reflect and refract in the later half of the book. 

I also have written a couple of new poems in the last few weeks, ones that I hope round the book out a bit. I still think there is one or two more to write, definitely one for the end. I also have several poems I need to go back and overhaul massively. I like the new stuff I’ve written though. It feels different to me. In a good way. Turned it in for workshop–so we’ll see what kind of feedback I get on it. I think that’s going to be my last major workshop of the year–wow–that’s crazy. 

Off to clean my room–looks like a tornado came through!