"Taking Inventory" is a biography about my mother, whose life spanned decades filled with hope, heartbreak, loneliness, and adversity. Weaving together micro-essay and prose poetry set at the merger of her adulthood and my childhood, this mixed genre collection examines the many ways her life influenced mine. The triptych structure of the book moves backwards in time, exploring the relationship between my mother and the world she navigated, beginning with the final stages of her life, moving through a turbulent mid-life, and ending with the young woman affected by a world war, an alcoholic father, and a devoutly religious mother. In the essay "Late Night Ap·o·lo·gi·a," regret and justification are intertwined to explore an imagined confessional, while another key piece, "A Daughter's Nondisclosure Agreement," allows my teenage persona to put my mother's indiscretions on full display. "When I Kissed Her Today, She Smelled Like Coconut" and "I Was Someone's Daughter Once" highlight the redemptive qualities that created the foundation of the mother-daughter alliance that is evident in "Ice Cream." "Bumper-to-Bumper Bravado" and "whiteboard reality" relate the struggles of navigating the final stages of her life. At some point, you realize your mother is not who you thought she was, but someone separate from what you made her out to be. My mother didn't have the solutions, nor the answers to her problems—or her daughter's. In many ways, "Taking Inventory" stands in judgement regarding the why, how, and what if in her role both as a mother and as a woman. It's full of questions about motherhood, womanhood, and daughterhood—and ultimately about forgiveness.
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Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Owens, Constance, "Taking Inventory" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 393.