American poetry, Women authors, American women poets, Contemporary poetry, Poetry, Poets, Political poetry, Elegiac poetry, Ode


Five Kingdoms. (Under the direction of Don Stap.) Five Kingdoms is a collection of 55 poems in three sections. The title refers to the five kingdoms of life, encompassing every living thing. Section I explores political themes and addresses subjects that reach across a broad expanse of time--from the oldest bones of a child and the oldest map of the world to the bombing of Fallujah in the current Iraq war. Connections between physical and metaphysical worlds are examined. The focus narrows from the world to the city in section II. The theme of shelter is important to these poems, as is the act of being a flâneur. The search for shelter, physical and spiritual, is explored. The third section of Five Kingdoms narrows further to the individual. Political themes recur, as do ekphrastic elements, in the examination of individual lives and the search for physical and metaphysical shelter. The title poem "Five Kingdoms," was written on the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. This non-narrative poem is composed of a series of questions for the reader regarding personal and national security. It is a political poem that uses a language of fear and superstition to question what we are willing to sacrifice to be safe and what "safety" means. The poem ends with a call to action: "Before you break in two, categorize/the five kingdoms, count all the living things." The poems in this manuscript are a kind of counting that pays attention to the things of the world through praise and elegy. The poems in Five Kingdoms are indebted to my reading of many poets, in particular Michael Burkard, Carolyn Forché, Brenda Hillman, Tony Hoagland, Kenneth Koch, Philip Levine, Denise Levertov, Jane Mead, W.S. Merwin, Pablo Neruda, Frank O'Hara, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, and Mark Strand.


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Graduation Date



Stap, Donald


Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities



Degree Program

Creative Writing








Release Date

November 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)