Date of Award

12-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Weise, Jillian M.

Committee Member

Bushnell , Cameron F.

Committee Member

Paul , Catherine E.

Abstract

Contemporary poet Chelsey Minnis has a style that is unlike any other poet of today. Throughout all three of Minnis‘s collections, the speaker is unpredictable in her tone, content, and approach, appearing quite random and flippant. Furthermore, Minnis‘s distinctive use of ellipses and ideograms also separate her poetry from any of that of her contemporaries, as they take such a prominent role within her poems, refusing to be ignored. When first reading a Minnis poem, many do not know how to even begin to analyze it, as the poetry does not adhere to any traditional codes, and no rules exist that could guide the reader in his or her investigation. Therefore, after taking into consideration several different theories about how to approach poetry and contemporary work, I provide my own analysis of Minnis‘s poetry, concluding that she creates a sort of supplemental language in order to create a presence or experience for the reader.
Prominent support and direction for my arguments begins with Mark Doty‘s introduction to Michael Dumanis and Cate Marvin‘s Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century, wherein he introduces the idea of “performative“ voice (xxi), as well explains how to approach innovative poetry. In addition, Alicia Ostriker‘s theory of “duplicitous poetry“ (41) is a running theme throughout my analysis, as I argue that through Minnis‘s conflicting speaker, as well as her ideograms and ellipses, the speaker many times presents opposite ideas that “coexist with equal force“ (Ostriker 41) within the poetry. Finally, referring to other poets who may have influenced Minnis‘s writing, namely Marianne Moore and Gertrude Stein, I conclude that Minnis‘s poetry is a fresh demonstration of a poet‘s struggle of relying only upon language to present ideas. Like these poets, Minnis employs other devices, hers being her duplicitous speaker, ideograms, and ellipses, in order to supplement language. As a result, Minnis‘s poetry arrives even closer to a presence that seems alive, active, and exciting for the reader to experience.

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