Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Bruce Guernsey


A Directory of Loose Ends is comprised of a collection of thirty original poems, and a prose afterword. The collection of poems is divided into three groups according to subject, tone, and technique. The afterword details influences, biographical elements, and inspiration.

The first group consists mostly of poems in which mythical characters such as Grendel, Penelope, and Ulysses, speak. Unidentified speakers also offer myths of other kinds, such as "Salvador Dali in a Wheelchair on TV," in which an imaginative speaker addresses the painter, describing for him a dream she claims he has had, and "Confirmations," in which the speaker details the myths of pregnancy.

The second group of poems, called Complaint, is characterized by a dissatisfaction of the speakers. Many of the poems are inspired by the places of employment around which the poems are centered. Others detail the speakers' unwillingness to accept nature as it is, and their preference for expanding the rules and forces of nature to include themselves at the center.

The third and largest group, Letter, consists of poems written directly to individuals. The recipients are friends, siblings, a novelist, a former husband, a lover. The subjects range from wineglasses to the vernal equinox.

The afterword explores the tension between knowing a good poem and learning to create one. Referring to specific poems from the collection, it examines the influences of such classic poets as John Donne, John Milton, and Emily Dickinson. Marvin Bell, Heather McHugh, Paul Zimmer, Jared Carter, and Mary Oliver are discussed as some of the modern models and inspiration for the collection.

Included in

Poetry Commons