Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Second Advisor

Jill McDonough

Third Advisor

Lloyd Schwartz


These poems work to bridge the gap between those who struggle to read and those who read with ease. The prefix dys-, in the American usage, is a combining form which transforms words into their bad, ill, or abnormal counterparts. While the prefix dys- is predominantly used in medicine, its etymology roots in a more social, or moral, othering. In staking out language, I claim the etymological stigma of dys- as a way to dislodge the labeling of atypical learners as people with learning disabilities. Being pegged early on with learning (dys)abilities in the Orthodox Ashkenazi diasporic Jewish community, which finds its stability through success in education, I struggled to find my place in my community, religion, and cohort because I struggled to read both English and Hebrew. Through searching for the right words, through these poems, I choose to find a way of belonging and unraveling the language which I have been designated.


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