Bolger, Lauren Sarah Anne (2021) 4:23 PM, Relaxant. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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The practical component of this thesis is a collection of poems entitled 4:23 PM, Relaxant, which consists of an original collection of verse written mainly in the confessional tradition. The collection addresses a number of themes including family and personal relationships, loss, grief, and the combination of everyday objects and experiences with surreal imagery. The critical commentary accompanying the volume focuses on the technical aspects of specific poems from Part One to Part Four of the collection to exemplify how critical reading altered my approach at key junctures in the collection’s creation. The crucial aim of the commentary is to detail the development in my poetic voice and incorporate a critical analysis of concepts and motifs in dialogue with key critics including Johnathan Culler, Northrop Frye, Ezra Pound, Sigmund Freud, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes. Through consideration of their comments about sense and musicality, I gave recognition to a long history of research into the poet’s investigation of the relationship between the literal meaning of word-use, and the sound and gestural aspects inherent within reading poetry aloud. Close reading of the work of poets that influenced the collection through the lens of these critics proved essential to this process. In doing so, my thesis demonstrates an awareness of poetry arising from both the avant-garde and mainstream traditions by poets Sarah Howe, Kenneth Goldsmith and Denise Riley. In particular, I scrutinised at the work of poets that explore the confessional modes of writing poetry: Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath. My attention to these poets contributed to the construction of the conceptual framework for my own poetry. Investigating the reflective, critical and technical aspects of these poets helped me to explore the periphery and specificity of my use of musicality in the poems from 4:23 PM, Relaxant and enabled me to write intimate, close readings of my poetry which further informed awareness of how poetic meaning is developed in the analysis of the poems. The commentary also contains discussions of confessional and surrealist techniques as they evolve in my creative work, which demonstrates, consequently, the nuanced relationship between these modes of writing. As a result, the subjective experiences and descriptions of the theme of grief re-enacted through imagery, metaphor, form and musicality in the collection were contingent on cross referencing and perhaps resolving the paradoxes these historically different poetic movements present.

The outcomes of this research are an original collection of poems and in-depth critical commentary that will potentially act as framework to other poets developing their voice through research to contextualise the route their own poetry has taken. Therefore, this research will contribute to the existing knowledge we have in practice-based research in the arts, and act as a case study to any researcher developing an analysis of their writing process while simultaneously writing their poetry collection. It may also be of benefit to researchers critiquing: the arrangement of musicality and meaning in lyric poetry; and, the expression of grief and autobiographical content in poetry and for furthering understandings on the precision of line-breaks and syntactic-control in writing poetry which reveals considerations for the page and in live performance settings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Contributors: Sheard, James (Thesis advisor)
Bentley, NP (Thesis advisor)
McCracken, Scott (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2021 15:02
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2021 15:02

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