Student Research Projects

I Scribe: For the Love of Language

Student Leanne Causby, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Interdisciplinary Studies
Course English 398: Advanced Poetry Writing Workshop

Abstract

In my research I set out to answer the question of how a poet today goes beyond merely confessional poetry, yet writes work that is meaningful to that poet and to readers. I also pondered how an artist makes her art new. Charlotte Pence in her essay “’Not I!’: Strategies of Post-Millennial Confessionalistic Poetry” argues that one way to “transcend the personal and its particulars” is “to focus on language as subject rather than self as subject” (306). The process in which my poems were created was driven by the practical research approach. My approach involved reading other poets’ work, observing live poetry performances, and revising and editing my own work. The nature of the practical research approach allowed me to simultaneously build on prior knowledge, techniques and concepts while engaging in the editing process to refine my own poems. This sequence of original poems, with its theme of reflections on language and writing, brings forth my boundless love for words. In this dramatic reading, I begin with “Verses,” a poem about reasons poets write. It roots itself between my desire to write for myself, to “scribe for the truth that hides inside,” and my hunger to write for others: “I scrawl for all y’all. / For the broken homes and worship call.” Shaped in rhymed couplets to capture the tension between these two desires, “Verses” uses a varying refrain between couplets to reflect on the act of writing as “I scrawl,” “I compose,” “I poem,” and “I scribe.” Similarly, the form of “Life Lessons I Should Have Learned from Books Already” is meaningful; it imitates the appearance of a table of contents, with chapter numbers on the left and corresponding “lessons” justified to the right of the page. This poem meditates on growth in our lives through a series of metaphors related to books, stories, and writing. For example, the poem opens by telling readers, “There will be moments that leave entire days empty of punctuation.” The poem concludes with, “Some books, some books/will irrevocably change you. . . . You will be forced to rewrite your own manual in hopes of ever comprehending yourself / again, & this will be an edit that you could never have prepared for.” “Centr@l Processing Unit” brandishes computer lingo to personify computers in a “land of Ctrl+Alt+Delete” and ends with a bar code. The last two poems were inspired by a book of private love letters of noted figures such as Alexander Pope, Beethoven, and Oscar Wilde; I truly enjoyed piecing together the found poem, “Moments Contained,” from these treasures of old, romantic language. “Ever Thine” summarizes how poetic language can transform our best into timeless experience.