Date of Award


Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Michael Sowder


Michael Sowder


Jennifer Sinor


Benjamin Gunsberg


The purpose of this thesis is to explore through poetry my conflicted relationship with an abusive, narcissistic father, a father who passed down to me the after-effects of generations of inherited trauma and traditions of patriarchy. In a narrative arc unfolding through domestic scenes and deepened with metaphor, I offer readers the story of my struggle to accept the personal and psychological damage I experienced as a child, to forgive, and to achieve a measure of healing so that my experience might benefit others. Using poetry enabled me to distill elements of my circumstances that, in my lived experience, were overwhelming and blinding, and control them with poetic devices in a way that the complexities I encountered could be clearly examined and sculpted as provocative art.

My poetry thesis is accompanied by a critical introduction that offers background to the generational dysfunction and inherited trauma of my father’s family, based upon research, family records, and poets writing about similar kinds of trauma. Inviting the reader into my poetic narrative in this way, through story, scene and metaphor, an imaginative, embodied experience can result, and healing solutions can become discernible. In exploring my relationship with my father, a man saturated by the traditions of Polish patriarchy and domestic cycles of abuse, I confront that abuse, define the ways I survived, thrived, and healed. I do not wish to scorn my father, but rather to map the path of my attempt to survive, find support, and claim my own identity and reality.