Dirt Amendment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Bin Ramke

Second Advisor

Graham Foust

Third Advisor

Selah Saterstorm

Fourth Advisor

Hava Gordon


Creative writing, Poetry


This creative dissertation leverages poetics of storytelling and world-building as a way to carve out room for lesbian gaze, speakership, and personhood. Comprised of four heroic crowns of sonnets, this work is both formal and experimental, ranging from lyric romantic and familial narrative to blank verse of reconfigured found text pulled from financial newsletter emails. These crowns place the speaker in sociopolitical, geographically- and ecologically-rooted contexts. Moreover, this work pursues the implications of national political identity with an intersectional awareness that interrogates complicity in late-stage capitalism, drone warfare, the election of Donald Trump, gay poetry lineage, regionalism, familial kinships structures, environmental degradation, and mental health. As is the case in lived experience, these treacheries fade in and out of focus as intimacy, heartbreak, travel, eroticism, joy, and quotidian happenings offer character and momentum across non-linear narrative arcs.

The critical apparatus enters the vibrant conversation in queer studies about futurity and death drive by calling both temporal orientations into question in the context of Covid-19. This essay stakes out the necessity of reconciling with the present—even a quarantined present—as a therapeutic tactic of literary criticism. Drawing on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s concept of reparative reading, I turn to contemporary lesbian poetry written in the year preceding the global Covid-19 crisis and temporally queer this body of literature by anachronistically reading traces of the pandemic into the texts. Specifically, I offer close readings of work from eight new full-length collections by Natalie Diaz, Carmen Giménez Smith, Etel Adnan, Shira Erlichman, Stephanie Burt, Franny Choi, t’ai freedom ford, and Keetje Kuipers with and against José Esteban Muñoz, Lee Edelman, Allyson Mitchell, and Sedgwick to transcend pandemic paranoia and denial. I argue that when read in quarantine, these pandemic moments in lesbian poetry offer the reader a mode of accessing present trauma that acknowledges a rupture in temporal expectations and the grief therein, while dissolving the construct of futurity.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

Rights Holder

Alicia Mountain


Received from author

File Format




File Size

113 pgs


Creative writing

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