Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Science in English


The poems in this thesis are an exploration of how two worlds can exist at once. The first world is the physical world as we perceive it through our senses and experience it through living. It is a cyclical world that begins with childhood, and moves toward adulthood, parenthood and death. In this world we go about the act of living. Yet it is in the second world, a more metaphysical one, that we are most alive. We often gain our knowledge of this world through observing and experiencing the natural world. It is a place in which we discover our true selves. This world exists like the mythical ethers; its boundaries are unmarked and the journey takes us into places of light and dark, of sound and silence. It is the coexistence of these two worlds that I attempt to explore in my writing. To access this metaphysical world requires a certain sense of surrender. This can be difficult since it seems to be our species' natural tendency to try to tame or control our environment. Therefore, we must not assume the attitude of a conqueror of nature. We must assume instead the role as a student of nature. That means being truly attentive, finding stillness and quiet, and being willing to listen to the world around us. Secrets can be told in bird song or in the shadows of oaks. My love for nature and writing began at an early age. As a teen I fell in love with poetry. I discovered the poetry of the Victorians, Pre-Raphaelites and Romantics in old anthologies stored away in my grandparent's attic. In these dusty bound volumes with their frayed covers, I discovered the lyrical language of Browning, Tennyson, and Keats. Delving into them instilled in me the appreciation for the beauty of words playing upon each other. In later years, teachers and mentors, like Peggy and Frank Steele, introduced me to the poetry of William Stafford, Ted Kooser, and William Carlos Williams. I was drawn to the straightforward economical use of language by Stafford. His style explored the inner and outer world in language accessible to the average reader. Kooser also used accessible language to describe the human condition. His portraits and narratives instilled validity to my own sense of narrative found in many of my poems. Finally, my poet husband, Dorsey Grice, introduced me to the poetry of Mary Oliver. Her incredible attunement to and observations of nature left me humbled. Somewhere between those early discoveries of the traditional poetic canon and my studies of the modern/contemporary poets I have found my own voice emerge. The blending of the periods has created in me the tendency to write with an economy of language, combined with what I hope are lyrical, melodic lines that are imbued with a subtle sense of rhythm. In writing this creative thesis I have divided the poems into two sections. In general they explore how we relate within physical, social and spiritual contexts. The first section is entitled "A Woman You Might Know" and deals more with the human experience of raising children, finding and losing love, grieving for the ill and dying, and searching for wholeness. The second section is called "The Sound of Trees" and deals with observations within the natural world. It includes poems dealing with the changing of the seasons, farm life, observing wildlife, and the spiritual world. Although each is divided according to a general topic, they both hopefully convey the presence of a dual world in which we live every day and are occasionally allowed a glimpse into. It's a place where the voices of our ancestors gather round us to share their stories and teach us something of value about ourselves.


Creative Writing | English Language and Literature