Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts




This thesis tells a story in poems, my true story; the people write about are people now or formerly in my fife. The events took place in my life and the thoughts expressed are or have been, at some point, my real thoughts. In this respect you are reading a particular form of my autobiography. The autobiographical nature of my poetry is the largest reason I might be called a confessional poet, but not the only reason. Scholars of the American confessional tradition generally note several other characteristics in what they identify as confessional poetry. Kathleen Ossip, in a recent issue of The Writer's Chronicle (Feb 2001), noted the following in relation to famous confessionals including Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell and John Berryman: * Autobiographical content tending toward the shameful and traumatic, including emotional breakdown and institutionalization, divorce and separation from children, infidelity, hatred of parents, and suicide.;*The treatment of personal material uncovered by psychoanalysis; and * A stance that assumed the poet's heightened sensibilities bruised by a repressive, alienating society. It's a bit hard to be proud of the fact that these characteristics can be found in my poetry too. However, it is true that the autobiographical content Ossip speaks of is, in so many ways, the content of my life history, and I have "written what I know." Whether I ever wished to know it is a different matter. Because I am telling a story, the poems are carefully ordered so that each one builds upon the previous in a narrative manner, introducing new information, new characters, new events, etc. Each poem continues and embellishes the story so that in the end the story follows the traditional narrative triangle, offering setting and "backstory" first, building up to a climax, and then ending with falling action, or the denouement-what happens after the climactic action. The three sections I've divided the thesis into represent these three major narrative moves.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Erika Stephanie Hall



OCLC Number


File Format


File Size

56 pages