Orion's Eyes

Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Jennifer Moxley

Second Committee Member

Benjamin Friedlander

Third Committee Member

Laura Cowan


The following manuscript is a thesis in poetry and poetics. The goal of the thesis was to generate poems which investigate perception and to develop a nascent sense of my own poetics. The manuscript is invested in the exploration of poetry’s sonic qualities as a primary constitutive force behind a poem’s meaning. Inspired by Zukofsky’s declaration that the highest order of poetry is music, the poems are rooted in the expressive capacity of the voice. The critical introduction draws attention to how that vocal expressivity functions in the poems as a meaning-making element. The poems included in Orion’s Eyes were written between 2020 and 2022 and explore perception through sound and imagery. They exhibit an interest in phenomenology and the natural world as explored through word- and phrase-based sound patterning. Indebted to Merleau-Ponty’s writings on the inseparability of the senses, the poems enact certain forms of repetition and variation to generate aural patterns that are echoed in the imagery and matter described. Many of the poems also show, in their subject matter, direct interest in questions of voice; the concentrated interest in the formal presence of sound as a constructive device for the poems naturally led to a reflective interest in the aural realization of those sounds. The poems are divided into three sections gathered under the thematic groupings of “music,” “light,” and “harmony,” and are populated by ten black and white illustrations by Casey Forest. The critical introduction elaborates my drafting and revising processes and is presented from a reflective standpoint. By analyzing the opening poem of the manuscript, the introduction explains what decisions were made during the writing process and what literary influences were behind those decisions. In foregrounding my influences, I hope to make apparent the adherence of my poetics to a inspirational lineage that is loosely attributable to a line of speech-based-poetics, but is diverse in genre. In the readings of my poems, I primarily elucidate formal craft elements and how these elements would be reflected in a vocal recital of the poem.