Sky country: Poems



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A creative dissertation, Sky Country contains 37 poems and an introductory chapter that considers the poems’ formal and aesthetic properties in relation to the poetic traditions from which they arise. “Sky country,” a translation for the Korean word for “heaven,” was a word potential immigrants often used to describe America. Once they arrived, they found America less than the ideal paradise they imagined. This longing for the ideal home serves as a controlling theme throughout these poems. In many of these poems, the idea of “home” as center of comfort and safety takes on further urgency when placed in the context of immigration narratives, the Korean war, and the Japanese American internment. The manuscript’s overall arc presents a subtle growth; the earlier poems show a speaker still trying to make sense of the world, the middle sections show the speaker working through different personas and perspectives, and the final section shows the speaker again trying to make sense of the world, but now equipped with new knowledge. Formally, these poems arise from the tradition of the lyric “I” speaker, but more specifically from a tradition where the construction of the speaker’s personality is vital to the experience of the poem. This construction allows the poet to maintain objectivity and authority. The critical introduction outlines this tradition, with analysis of poems by T.S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Other influences include the critical work of Carl Dennis and Steven Yao.

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