Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Robert "Brett" Hursey, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mary Carroll-Hackett, M.F.A.

Third Advisor

Robert L. Lynch, Jr., Ph.D.


The purpose of this thesis is to examine, through a collection of poetry, loss and its effect on the speaker or characters of each poem. In "Lost Sex and Other Poems, " I often write about death, the ending of relationships, and loss of the self. While addressing these subjects, I also focus on a turn from religion, or a sense of disillusionment with cultural norms, that often follows a substantial loss. As Elizabeth Bishop once wrote, "the art of losing isn't hard to master," and I have had to face and evaluate many different changes in my life. The deaths of several family members have had a tremendous effect on my writing. Like many of my speakers, I've had relationships fail, and sometimes question the traditional Christian ideals my parents taught me as a child. Many of my speakers also belong to the community of Southern women, with which I identify, still encouraged to uphold a mythical and oppressive ideals of what a lady should be. The title poem of my collection embodies the challenges a Southern woman faces, and presents the lady both as defiant and victimized. By the end of the poem, the restrictions placed on her are too overwhelming, and she seeks the only escape the poem allows. As a poet, I tried to take challenges like these and use them as inspiration to write toward truth, I hoped to create honest speakers instead of ones who hide behind words I personally want people to hear. I struggled originally, not wanting to write a collection like this - full of people dying and leaving, questioning God, and replacing the self with whatever society insists-but still hoping these poems might show beauty found in losing gracefully and in missing the things that are gone. There is still a sense of hopelessness in most of these poems, especially those dealing with death; the word "lost" often implies that a thing can also be "found," but many times this is not the case. The speakers cannot resolve the problems, and rarely ask why a death or loss has occurred. Instead, they acknowledge the issue and attempt to come to terms with it, sometimes in unhealthy ways and often with some degree of fear. Fear is also a prominent theme in this collection Like my characters, I am afraid of losing my keys or ID one more time, or losing the people I love, and of losing faith - in myself, others, and God. But it is partly this fear that drove me to write and share these poems - maybe if we can face loss; admit that it has, can, and will happen; we may all ultimately become less afraid.

Included in

Poetry Commons



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