Date of Award

5-1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Keith Grant Davie

Abstract

The Song of the Family

I do not believe that lives are lived in isolation, but rather are connected by ties of humanity and of family. For me because of this intimate human connection, every life experience, trivial or tremendous, is a poem. The poems blend into one--a great symphony of the human condition. An experience, even if left unverbalized, shapes the minds of both the one experiencing it and those connected to him or her by either close or distant ties.

In this collection I combine the poetic experiences most relevant in shaping me. They are the songs of my family. Some of these have never been told before, others passed to me through several generations of oral and written history. I began this collection years ago--recording the songs sung in my head and the poems of my childhood memories. I became interested in the way my experiences connected to the experiences of those around me. I began exploring my past--doing verbal sketches of my parents and grandparents--studying the history of my ancestors. I record these experiences so they will not be lost. I record these experiences for the future--to give my children a heritage to look back on as they begin to define themselves and sing their own songs.

The Voice of a Woman

As I began researching my family history, I began to see that most of the information I have used was recorded by women. The personal journals I found (excluding one journal of poetry written by my father's uncle) were kept by women. The biographies and personal histories were often, though not always, compiled by women. The letters I received on the subject were written by women. The stories I heard as a child, whether of men or women, were told to me by my Mother, Grandmothers and Aunts. I have also noticed that the lines of family history I know the most about, the photographs that have been saved, the stories that have been remembered are maternal--representing the lines of my mother and my mother's mother as well as my father's mother. Perhaps this shows a natural feminine tendency toward storytelling and history. Or perhaps it suggests a feminine concern for the future such as that which compels me to suggest my unborn children as the final audience for this collection.

Feminine sources, in addition to my own perspective as a woman, have given this volume of poetry a strong feminine voice. Most poems are written in my own voice or the augmented voice of my childhood. When I did assume another voice--even when recording a man's experience--it is the voice of a woman.

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