Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Lloyd Schwartz

Second Advisor

Jill McDonough

Third Advisor

Joseph Torra


THE VISIBLE PLANETS is a collection of poetry that attempts to answer questions of human existence through the study of astronomy and astrophysics. It looks for scientific evidence for the reasons we fall in love, the reasons our family members die, and the reasons some people are never blessed with children among many others. The manuscript rifles through equations applied to astronomy trying to fit them to unanswerable human ponderings like the length of mourning for a child or the cause of disease. Through these explorations of extraterrestrial entities, the poems seek to show what in these stars or planets or nebulae reflects our most desperate questions, how their rotations and orbits and the math we can apply to them says more about us than it does about them. The poems use math and mathematical symbols to mean undefinable constants of life, while at the same time demanding that there is a numerical answer. The penultimate section is a sonnet sequence written for each planet in our solar system that is in synchronous orbit with some of its moons. This section personifies the moon-planet pair in question as if they were contemporary lovers. These poems engage with the mythological and literary figures for which the planets and moons are named, while also reckoning aspects of their terrain or known orbital patterns. THE VISIBLE PLANETS is a manuscript in progress that attempts to employ our most significant findings about space, for example the rate our universe is expanding, and ask what those findings can reveal to us about our own lives on Earth.


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