Creative Writing and Literature

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    Something in the "Middle": Writing Longing as a Form of Prolonged Closure
    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2023-05-20) Clarkin, Sophia
    Writers siphon complicated emotions surrounding longing into numerous forms. Poetry and screenwriting poignantly narrate the concept of longing in their own respective manners. These formats allow for strong mimetic connections between audience and writing. Screenwriting involves mimesis in a structural sense, imitating qualities of life in a formulaic way. Poetry, on the other hand, abstracts these reality-based occurrences in a way that provides a looser formation of written, often unconscious, thought. With this fluidity, writers can release their innermost desires and falsified realities. There is an implicit relationship between longing as a form of prolonged closure and the writers’ exploitation of this emotion. Despite the formatting differences, there are many connections between poetry and screenwriting, and that directly plays a part in the ties to the formats’ mimetic reading. These poets and screenwriters write about prolonged closure to fulfill their own longing that can never be fulfilled within reality. In tandem with this reading on closure, I will also present my personal writings on the topic. I combined the structure conventions of poetry and screenwriting, mixing these genres in such a way to express this longing as a form of prolonged closure, because these forms flow together naturally for me. The script's third-person narration helps me view personal areas within my life from an omniscient perspective. Looking deeper into this concept of a lack of fulfillment, the structure and format of the coinciding genres will be formative into my research. I will also be looking into the utilization of the hypothetical and toying with reality, the fragmented ambiguity within both genres, the form of longing itself, and closure’s circular narrative, all of which directly shape a readers’ interpretation of both poetry and screenwriting and the capabilities of defining both. I will look at poetry such as The Surrender Theory, a collection of poems that deals with this incredibly personal relationship with closure and how to find it, dealing with love and loss and how to cope with both. I will look at scripts for the films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer, both screenplays that agonize over the struggle of closure surrounding a relationship and portray vastly different ways to handle said processing. Finally, I will also extricate analytical pieces regarding the writing of closure and mimesis as a whole, from McConnell, Riffaterre, Hamburger, Meyer, Maran, Longenbach, and Carlson. These analyses can help articulate my own personal writing's deeper consciousness, the context within the piece, the idea of the “middle” – an ambiguous, ever-present feeling of floating between the start and end of something – and acknowledge how my writing falls within the previously stated structural premises' intertwining of the poetry and screenwriting genres to best exemplify longing’s prolonged closure. Poetry often explores the dynamic between very personal, private thought and the transference of that to a more public, communal form of expression. Screenwriting, however, tends to lend itself to the visual – film, the use of actors, the culmination of music and cinematography – in a way that poetry does not. Poetry therefore becomes a much more private and individualistic medium whereas screenwriting is often meant to be broadcasted, which therefore creates a clashing dynamic when combined. However, I believe that both forms tend to pull on each other’s qualities more often than not. Poetry, although it may seem incredibly personal and private, tricks readers into the belief that it is in the rawest, most pure form of writing when, really, it is often a caricature based on reality. Screenwriting typically does the opposite. Scripts utilize these hypothetically fictional or overblown characters to hide behind the imaginative when exploiting reality. Many view screenwriting solely as pure falsity created from scratch, when typically, it sprouts from a pre-existing, private understanding of a truth based within reality. Together, this mixture of poetry and screenwriting merge private and public, persona versus personal, and create a highly ambiguous understanding of what reality the writer presents to those who read. For my own personal writing, romance tends to creep into every piece. The romantic experiences that I found myself speaking on were open-ended, lacked closure, and generally left me feeling confused, isolated, and on a mountain of high highs and low lows. Poetry, and eventually screenwriting, allowed for me to process these feelings into words and scenes, using different characters and contexts to rewrite and relive my reality. Poetry delves into the very personal details, the crumbs, of a situation, whereas screenwriting stretches the subject in a way that feels much more closed-off due to the nature of a three-act structure. Having the elongated subject matter combined with the present, more intense moments provides a space where the "middle" gets convoluted. Breaks in this three-act structure creates confusion, disrupting what typically appears to be the "middle" to question the very nature of a "middle" at all. In doing so, writing these experiences in a hypothetical way, in a stream of consciousness, and sometimes even in intoxicated-esque manners allowed me to understand and work through how I felt about the situations presented before me in an unrestricted sense. Encapsulating my own personal frustration with the "middle" became an advantage, creating a narrative that blurs the lines between this reality and fantasy. Things such as playing out situations, overblowing supposedly mundane moments, and relating time to these scenarios became a common theme throughout my piece, especially regarding the poetic lines. Poetry and screenwriting typically do not correlate. The forms clash, screenwriting normally a tightly structured format that heavily focuses on characters, dialogue, and plot, whereas poetry focuses on the abstract, a more imagery-based reimagining. Together, these forms push and pull at concepts like character, plot, detail, style, format, language, and overall general interpretation. Combining these differing facets within one piece was a challenge; balancing dialogue with imagery or symbolism with plot becomes a tricky line to walk. I experimented with visual media such as color (in using red as a way to express an unconscious aftermath of thoughts), the mixing of formats, and different symbol and character usage. I took traditional formats within screenplays and poetry and intertwined the two to create a nearly unrecognizable format to best relay my inner emotions and desires. Through combining the forms, it allowed me to best comprehend concepts of love, loss, closure, alcohol, addiction, physical and emotional intimacy, wishes and doubts, hypotheticals, fantasies, overthinking, and every other potential thought process present while in a relationship that never quite started or ended.
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    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2023) Bullock, Olivia
    "岑瑞", a name given to me in China by the orphanage, is a docupoetic work that attempts to construct an identity so that I might achieve closure on my personal adoption. At least, that was the plan. What both the critical thesis and creative portion will reveal is how the complex nature of language, documents, identities, and daughterhood all come together to both construct and reject a concrete identity—and, in turn, reject closure.
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    Queer Desire, Nature, & Myth in Ecopoetry
    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2021-05-16) Evans, Sydney
    Nature is often a compelling source for poetry, and has been since the Romantic era. The relationship between humans and nature has always been complicated, and has been further complicated by the Anthropocene, the era of geologic time where significant human impact on Earth’s environment has come to the forefront of knowledge; particularly with the acknowledgement of anthropogenic climate change and environmental damage. In this project I am attempting to explain the influence of ecopoetry on my poetic style, form and content. I am also exploring primary drivers for my poems, including queer desire, and mythological figures and themes. In my poems, all of these things fit together, and I am analyzing the relationships between the influences that have dominated the pathways my poems have taken, including exploring ecocriticism, the work of distinguished poets, and close readings of my own poems. Ecocritics Lynn Keller and Timothy Morton, along with the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, offer together a framework that can be used to navigate ecopoetry and its large but personal areas. For many poets the best way to explain emotion is through nature; and the best way to explain nature is through emotion. Poetry is a strong vehicle for combining those two approaches. With the background of the personal and impersonal, the vast and the small, the natural and the artificial, seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum meet together in ecopoetry, which is something I am accessing in my own poetry. I have read several books of poems that fall into the realm of ecopoetry and unique poetic voice, namely Nature Poem by Tommy Pico, Sea Change by Jorie Graham, feeld by Jos Charles, The Trees The Trees by Heather Christle, Poemland by Chelsey Minnis, and Styrofoam by Evelyn Reilly. Pico and Charles have a queer background to their nature-themed poems, which makes them all the more relevant to my project. Graham, Christle, and Reilly are poets with unique voices that are writing into the space of the Anthropocene, not necessarily from a queer perspective but from a deeply personal perspective. Minnis’s poetry draws on distinctly personal experiences to create a space of jarring images with more modern and urban imagery, which makes for an interesting comparison to the other work I have read and to my own work. For my poetry, nature has always been a vehicle to express emotion and desire. When I first began to write poetry in high school, I began with imagery of vast objects like the ocean and celestial bodies in outer space. Vastnesses like these seemed to be the only places I could give myself for the depth of feelings I was just beginning to tap into, in terms of my mental and social development, and the discovery of the fluidness of my identity as a queer person. It was all very overwhelming, and it felt almost too much to go into detail about the reality of my situation and the impressions of the world around me. It was easier to sink into spaces that are far away and distant, and unknown, like how I felt about myself at the time. When I first came into my poetic voice, I was also drawn to love poems, as many poets are. My love poems had the desired subject as a clearly defined person, often of fictional making to stand in the place of a real person, as there were feelings I did not yet know how to realize in my own life. I shied away from my desire, especially desires for other women, and for my own gender fluidity; I had a great fear too of reckoning with my queerness while still being attracted to men, and seeing myself as not quite a woman. I was not yet ready to explore the complications and nuances of myself, and my world. The language I used was more plain and direct, but the subject matters were held at arm’s length. Since then, my use of nature in my poetry has evolved into something else. I began to focus on visceral nature imagery, like dewdrops on leaves, and petals crushed underfoot. I made detailed observations of my direct surroundings. The language I used had to change to accommodate much smaller pieces of a larger picture, and very specific moments and impressions that were unique to me, and yet still part of something greater. I began to shape language around details, as a way to capture my specific emotions or observations. At times smaller images would be contrasted with larger, more abstract “natural” concepts as characterized by Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects, which will be explored later in detail. I would say that I was writing about hyperobjects vaguely when I first started writing poetry, without knowing what they were or comparing them to smaller points. Hyperobjects and awareness of the Anthropocene became present in my work when including larger concepts of climate change, environmental damage, changes in water chemistry, and species loss, and those are just the concepts tied to ecology and environmental science. I experimented with the poetic concept of ‘dailiness’, or journalistic poetry that makes the everyday more profound. Writing every day, I began to form my own style as a deeply personal catalog, using language I would often use just to talk to myself. This imagery and background for my poems came to the forefront and became a wealth of material for me to tap into. Even still, any encounter with the external world provides some inciting moments for me to work with. As an introverted person, being outside and in nature alone provides an opportunity for reflecting and a space to process difficult emotions, to live in them, and to heal.
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    The Bloody Chamber: Investigating and Adapting Bluebeard as a Feminist and Jamaican Fairytale
    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2021-05-16) James, Olivia Alicia
    The thesis opens with an essay discussing the evolution of the fairy tale Bluebeard and its continued legacy in modern adaptations which diversify and racialize the commonly accepted fairy tale standards. Examining Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox and Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn, the essay analyzes how modern authors use Bluebeard as a touchstone for exploring modern social codes and problems. The essay is followed by a 120-page novella offering a new Bluebeard retelling which reimagines the tale as a post- slavery story set in Jamaica with Black characters. The novella explores the legacy of slavery—its madness, violence, and trauma—on Winston, the male protagonist and wealthy landowner in the Bluebeard role, who marries Femi, a biracial servant on a neighboring plantation, who shares an inner strength equal to Winston’s.
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    Confession, Authorship, and Queer Identity in Poetry
    (Wheaton College. (Norton, Mass.), 2020-05-10) Spadacenta, Rebecca E
    “Confession, Authorship, and Queer Identity in Poetry” explores critical theories around sexuality using confession-based poetry and draws on the authority of the poet with an LGBTQ+ identity. Confession is related to the “coming out” experience and the cultural significance of a queer identity is investigated and exemplified throughout the poems. The introductory essay also includes an analysis of how contemporary poets use language to explore their identity and how the author investigates the importance of identity to her work.