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

Mark Pawlak


This collection of poems captures a contemporary lived experience and moment by documenting, engaging with, and annotating upon feelings of modernity, present and emerging technologies, mysticism and spirituality, and intersections with present-day social order and issues. Equal parts recording and response, this thesis is response to the strange and precarious precipice of a contemporary life, this state of being alive and always on verge of something new, something beautiful, something futuristic, fantastical, dangerous, decisive, absurd, magical. It is the poet coming to terms with his own identity, queerness, and role within a world marked by the dichotomy of extremity and conflation. He asks: what does it mean to exist as a young, queer, white person in this time? How do these times shape his life, both directly and tangentially? How do they affect his experience and identity, and, in turn, how do his identity and actions affect others? These explorations of contemporary America and personal identity have a boundless framework, which this thesis reconciles with the inclusion of a set of poems based on the major arcana cards of the traditional Ride-Waite-Smith tarot deck. This selection from a larger card-based poetry project creates an allegory to the contemporary lived experience in order to complicate and contain it. These tarot cards, as A.E. Waite wrote, "embody and track the spiritual history of humankind, our souls coming out of the Eternal, passing into the darkness of the material body, and returning to the height, to a heavenly plane." This poet believes that this tarot journey, represented by the 22 major arcana cards of classical tarot decks originating over 600 years ago, has been replicated through the centuries purposefully; that it holds truth and power and is therefore a powerful lens through which to view both America’s and the poet’s own spiritual journeys. The poems of the collection thus explore a wide range of topics, engage with a poetic past and future, and explore boundaries of sonics, style, imagination, content, and form, including traditional received forms and individualized nonce forms.