Chasing the absence : c. 40 pp. of verse
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Chasing the Absence explores themes of absence and loss, containing poems on emotional loss, death, disconnection and other lacks or losses, including the frustrations of language, whether disfluency or the pains of realising a poem. Some poems explore connection or reconnection (eg with Scots); however, presence contains the possibility of absence. Several poems address the theme of work and making. Specifically, the title comes from a poem in a sequence based on research into C19 Hamilton, Lanarkshire, and the entirely unknown family of my maternal grandmother: farmers, woodworkers and textile workers. The sequence grew from my struggles between duty to historical context and interpretation; awareness of projecting my emotions onto characters; and the capacity imaginatively to realise little-documented characters whose potential was limited by their socio-historical context. Few of the poems are written metrically or in strict form. Rhyme is employed lightly, and is seldom sustained except in the few poems intended as light relief. Nevertheless, the poems are strongly patterned, mainly through attention to sound and rhythm. Two poems depend upon visual impact. Others use the page to explore distance and space, or depend primarily upon the syntax to determine pace. The language is straightforward and direct, though diction varies. One concern is to pay attention to, perhaps to reify, objects or feelings not quite within grasp. Images relating to textiles recur. During writing, the absence of metaphor was troubling – yet the inability to find surprising yet meaningful comparisons is implicit in the intangibility of the unknown that is being chased. The pace of most poems is slow, a deliberate focusing of attention on the mundane, on what does not dazzle. In contrast to that meditative approach, some poems explore heightened energy, taking from projective verse, being propelled by kinetics, breath and typographical use of the whole page.
Thesis, MFA Master of Fine Arts
Embargo Date: 2022-05-04
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 4th May 2022
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