Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Beth Gylys

Second Advisor

Andrea Jurjevic

Third Advisor

John Holman



This dissertation represents the culmination of my doctoral studies and demonstrates my development as a poet. The dissertation begins with a critical introduction of my studies of the Black Arts Movement, which serves as a prologue to my full-length poetry manuscript. Deeply influenced by poetry written by African Americans from the Harlem Renaissance through the Black Arts Movement, I recognize the importance of poetry’s response to cultural and political change. In the introduction, I explore the works of Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Etheridge Knight, Audre Lorde, Michael Harper, Nikki Giovanni, and Claudia Rankin. These poets inspired me with their poetic approaches to Black love, Black history, and Black culture. Their poems taught me lyrical techniques and a willingness both to adhere to and break from traditional poetic forms and language. Within this discussion, I intersperse segments of my own work to represent their influence.

The poems selected for this manuscript draw on themes such as family heritage, African American history and culture, social justice, womanhood, religion, and the natural world. The poems are written in free verse, blank verse, and forms such as sonnet variations, and they experiment with stanza formation and visual form to reflect content and tone. Therefore, this project exemplifies my dedication to the craft, my community engagement teaching pedagogy, and my focus on modern American poetry of the Black Arts Movement and beyond.


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