Document Type

Honors Thesis




Kathleen Ellis

Committee Members

Hollie Adams, Jennifer Moxley, Frédéric Rondeau, Kathryn Slott

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


This creative project, an original poetry manuscript and disquisition, aims to explore and demonstrate the power of poetic constraint — self-imposed rules in poetry. I wrote the poems within the tradition of lyric poetry, and therefore they reflect my personal experiences and feelings. Many of the poems reflect an experience that is best described as limerence, the psychological term for an intense, lasting “crush.” As I distilled my feelings into poetry, I used both traditional methods of constraint, such as the sonnet and the ghazal, and innovative ones, such as selecture, my own variation on erasure. I found that constraint is liberating. Thanks to constraints such as rhyme scheme, I imbued my poetry with beauty and musicality, breaking subconscious constraints to discover unexpected turns of phrase. Writing this manuscript strengthened my conviction that poetic constraint is liberating. Therefore, I intend to continue exploring the potential of poetic constraint in future work.

Rights and Access Note

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