Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Adam Clay

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Michael Aderibigbe

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Charles Sumner

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Alexandra Valint

Committee Member 4 School



The poems in Degenerate Era of an Expanding Universe engage with occurrences near and far—large and small, intimate and public—and do so in a style I have termed “concentric lyricism.” Concentric lyricism is not so much a new approach to the lyric but rather a heightened sensitivity to the aqueous nature of the lyric “I”; it is an awareness of the many, varied levels of experience and information that travel into the “I,” and how those stimuli shape the “I”’s understanding and expression of itself within the lyric. In an age of mass media in which news, images, and opinions penetrate unrelentingly into the self, concentric lyricism renders the effort of a singular, first-person speaker to locate themself within this world of information. The lyric poems of this collection engage with the idea of widening rings centered on the same point. Like planetary orbits or rings on a pool’s surface, these poems represent the broadening and tightening spheres of relation and responsibility felt by the speaker.

In developing this style, I synthesize a number of influences including James Wright’s movement between lyricism and confession; Louise Glück’s descriptive sensitivity and rhetorical directness; Alice Notley’s poetics of disobedience; and Carolyn Forché’s attention to the social space between public and private life. Perhaps the greatest affordance of this attention to concentricity is the way it allows for juxtaposition at every level of the manuscript, not just in content, but also form and organization. I note four primary ways the poems of this collection create these juxtapositions: in contrasting time-scales and proximities; in modes of expression, toggling between lyrical description and rhetorical directness; in the subtly shifting identities of both speaker and audience; and in transgressive shifts between the personal and political.

Available for download on Monday, December 01, 2273

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