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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Brazen Creature spans a young woman's awakening. The poems' concerns are twofold: violence against women and girls that has become rooted in the land, and verdant female desire in the face of entrenched oppression. In the poems' Midwestern towns and farmlands, patriarchy is a ghost that haunts the cottonwoods, soybean fields, and creek beds. The speaker is in limbo between fear and yearning, vulnerability and transgression, drought and flood, saving a life and needing to be saved. Poems from the manuscript have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as North American Review, Gulf Coast, Mid-American Review, and Blackbird, and one of these poems received a 2014 AWP Intro Award for Poetry. I am currently submitting the manuscript to publishers for consideration. The critical component of my dissertation, an essay entitled "The Poetics of Responsibility, Witness, and Empathy in Muriel Rukeyser's The Book of the Dead and Tarfia Faizullah's Seam," is implicitly connected to my creative work since it shares interests in trauma, oppression, and survival. I apply Carolyn Forche's theory of the poetics of witness, as both Rukeyser and Faizullah bore witness to the aftermath of widespread cultural trauma. By close reading selected poems and connecting them to other works that bear witness to trauma, I compare the books' technical approaches and argue that Rukeyser and Faizullah push the poetics of historical sensibility into the poetics of historical responsibility while writing toward a radical empathy to express what cannot be intellectualized.
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