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‘The Prospectus’ is a collection of poetry comprising of three distinct but interrelated sections. The first part is comprised entirely of a long poem called ‘The Book of Esther’, a fragmented exploration of the writings of Dutch-Jewish diarist Etty Hillesum. Centred on Hillesum’s relationship to writing as a practice, the poem draws upon the supposed ‘ephemera’ found in the diary, and contrasts it with the idealised ‘book’ she consistently writes about one day completing. ‘The Book of Esther’ references writers such as Rahel Varnhagen and Walter Benjamin in order to draw out their historical and creative affinities with Hillesum’s thought. The second section contains a selection of lineated poems in a more lyrical or autobiographical mode, most of which address ideas around artistic production, the rift between artist and artwork, and the tension between praxis and poiesis, building on the questions about creation raised in ‘The Book of Esther’. In these poems, family emerges as a key theme alongside the repeated motif of painting and image-making. This section also contains the sequence ‘New Narratives’, which repurposes 10-syllable lines from a specific copy of Katherine Mansfield’s ‘The Garden Party’ to create a chain of sonnets that both evade and invite comparison to the source material, troubling distinctions between making and remaking. ‘Lead White’, the long prose-poem which makes up the entirety of the third section, furthers the investigation into artistic praxis and draws parallels between the techniques of various Old Masters and an oblique, circuitous narrative centred on affect and memory. The poem was written in response to the TV series ‘Tom Keating: On Painters’, in which the infamous forger and art restorer showed audiences how to convincingly copy paintings by Turner, Constable, Titian, etc. while teaching them about the lost techniques used by painters of a previous age.
Thesis, MFA Master of Fine Arts
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