Tethered is a cross-genre poetry and essay collection whose speaker explores topics of identity, racial injustice, mental health, and emotional abuse, while also tackling the speaker's chronic physical illness. The collection seeks to discuss discomfort in all its form with increasingly intimate and personal detail. Structured by theme, it ventures first into race, before delving into greater identity issues that intersect with sexism and the speaker's sexual identity, finally alighting on the speaker's health as it intersects with her upbringing. In poems like "On God," and essays including "Naming Conventions of the Mid Life Jamaican," the speaker considers how her familial relationships have informed her identity, driven her self-destructive behavior, and ultimately armed her to content with bigoted practices in her personal and professional life outside of the home. With poems like "My Best Friend's White Guilt," "imma be real," and "I Said What I Said," the speaker interrogates her own Blackness and her alternating complicity in, complacency with, and pushback against bigoted systems that seek to exclude and suppress minority voices. With a greater focus on non-white identities coming forth in the media, these pieces seek to emphasize the flawed complexity of the individual Black woman, for her own sake—not just for her entertainment value. Poems like "immolate," "A Fine Merlot," and "Elegy for St. Gertrude" illustrate feminine vulnerability as created by patriarchal hierarchy, and rail against this phenomenon with incisive language that seeks to weaponize the female body as that which consumes rather than is consumed, and by validating the emotional vulnerability commonly associated with the feminine.
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Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Barnes, Audi, "Tethered" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 13.