Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English/Creative Writing

First Advisor

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Second Advisor

Jill McDonough

Third Advisor

Louise Penner


Afflictionary, Defining Disability and Chronic Illness Through Poetic Dictionary Entries is a poetry collection that uses the format of a dictionary to explore individualized experiences of both medical and non-medical words. The definitions and reference quotes that come before the poems come from the Oxford English Dictionary and various medical journals. The quotes act as a prompt or framework that helped shape the personal entries. They may echo the content in the poems, be placed in opposition, or complicate our understanding of the word. Some of the words list multiple years of personal entries which shows the chronic and recurrent nature of that word in the speaker’s journey with chronic illness and disability. By placing formal definitions alongside the personal experiences these experiences become legitimized and help define disability and chronic illness to readers who may not understand these aspects of identity.