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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Michelle Ann Bonczek
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: Where I Turn Bad
Dr. Nancy Eimers, Chair
Dr. William Olsen
Dr. Daneen Wardrop
Dr. Sarah Hill
Date: Monday, March 15, 2010 7:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
4042 Brown Hall
The poems in Where I Turn Bad weave together narrative, meditative, and surrealistic techniques to explore themes of the body, eroticism, the environment, family, marriage, motherhood, and ways we attempt to construct meaning in a subjective culture that is constantly changing its comprehension of reality. Rooted in the understanding that the only permanent thing in the universe is change, these poems often center on the human longing for physical permanence of both body and place while attempting to reconcile these feelings with mortality, dishonesty, and feelings of exile.
The collection is organized into three sections. The first section seeks to determine what in life is absolute by focusing on family, motherhood, and the foundations of identity, which include cultural heritage and home. The second section documents a series of failed intimate relationships through the voices of personas enraptured with the erotic, seduced by the ideals of love, and deceived by the unreliability and shifting state of the passions. The third section explores the human body as a physical artifact of abstract emotional history and attempts to find transcendence through acceptance of the impermanent state of the world and the human experience.
Built on the foundation of Robinson Jeffers’ philosophy of Inhumanism, in the background of many of these poems is the presence of Earth’s natural landscape and a longing for a shift in the global culture’s paradigm from a human-centered world to a world in which man is not at the center of meaning. War and military violence, domestic abuse and deceit also weld themselves into the architecture of these poems. Sequences of associative images and multiple perspectives of characters work to represent the state of change that is the process of life.
In addition to Robinson Jeffers, Where I Turn Bad is influenced by the democratic and all-embracing vision of Walt Whitman, the British Romantic love of the Sublime, and the many voices and techniques of female writers such as Tess Gallagher, Laura Kasischke, Ann Marie Macari, Malena Morling, and Muriel Rukeyser.