Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Bruce Guernsey


Country of Thieves is a collection of poems which examines the many faces of loss through voice and point-of-view. The thirty poems represent devices and techniques employed by American poets from Colonial times up to the present which include Anne Bradstreet, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath. The thesis introduction examines the voices of these poets and the collection demonstrates new viewpoints concerning age-old themes like love, anger and despair.

The introductory essay explores the similarities and differences between my poems and the works of poets already mentioned. These poets each represent different approaches to the use of voice. Some of Bradstreet's poetry deals with personal subjects of domesticity and the point-of-view is autobiographical. Both Whitman and Eliot display a wide assortment of voices in their individual poems while Dickinson's voice is singular and reserved. The poems of Sexton, Bishop and Plath contain confessional voices and these poets use their poetry as a vehicle to expose their personal lives. Although there are links between my work and the works of Bradstreet, Whitman, Dickinson and Eliot, this collection echoes the voices of the Confessional poets by exploring the inner-self of each persona. My poems deviate from more traditional Confessional poems because they seldom contain a blatant autobiographical point-of-view; my viewpoints are masked by different narrators who take the voice of a given persona like Guinevere or Cleopatra's slave.

The poems in the collection each employ a different voice and reveal different attitudes towards loss. "The Map Makers," which includes a few different voices as Whitman's poems often do, blends a subjective voice with a voice struggling to maintain objectivity and through the course of the poem the more emotional viewpoint takes over to lament over a history of men who left home to attain worldly success. Other poems like "Becoming the Vampire" employ a childlike voice which reaches a level of self-awareness similar to the narrator in Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" and that awareness is both painful and inevitable. "Noah's Wife" and "Medusa" give a voice to characters who previously did not have one and offer new ways of viewing their given situations, ways which seem to beg sympathy and understanding for the characters.

All in all, this collection stands as a kaleidoscope of different voices which examine loss in a personal and unique way. While the voices of the poems appear reminiscent of some voices contained in works by past American poets, they collectively represent an experiment to isolate the relationship between point-of-view and loss for a more in-depth study. The crafting of each poem, however, has had less to do with the influences of these other poets than personal experiences of love, anger, hope and despair, which are the genesis for all the poems.

Included in

Poetry Commons