The thread between the immigrant experience and the concept of silence has survived centuries of migrant stories, proving itself as one of the largest cultural barriers challenging the immigrant's sense of belonging. Scholars and essayists have thoroughly examined silence as a theme in immigrant and diaspora literature. Yet, the work that immigrant poets have performed to navigate silence and negative space through the manipulation of language has received little academic attention. This thesis studies the work of Latinx and Asian-American poets and their interpretations of silence as either a source of empowerment or oppression. When considering silence's contrasting functions in poetry—to either mute or heighten the possibility of language—the thesis found that silence can establish tensions that complicate the immigrant experience, evidenced further by the poets' use of themes representing loss, fear, place, and memory as negatives and positives in the immigrant's journey. The creative part of this thesis follows a chapbook of poems that examine and apply restrictive form into the study of silence and negative space as poetic devices. These poems form a Latinx quilt that embraces silence as a means for communication—like a brother to language—rather than as an oppressor. The resulting work will delineate the journey out of shame and out of hiding that undocumented immigrants must traverse to achieve the freedom of identity in their own self-carved third space.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Hurt, Rochelle


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


Department of English

Degree Program

Creative Writing



Access Status

Campus Access

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Release Date