Date of Graduation

Summer 2015


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Marcus Cafagna


"Girls at the Gun Show” presents a collection of narrative, free verse poems which center on place, particularly the Ozarks, and on motherhood and gender. In the tradition of contemporary poets such as Jim Daniels, Jane Springer, and Natasha Trethewey, many of the poems in this collection use place as a basis of the work. The Ozarks, specifically, figures heavily in the work, not only in the look of the landscape but also in the characters who live there. These poems are filled with vignettes of Ozark residents and their stories. In addition, the Ozarks is shown through blue collar work that figures prominently in the area, work such as waitressing, dump truck driving, and factory labor. Another theme in this collection is motherhood. Writers such as Louise Glü;ck, Rita Dove, and, Sharon Olds all write about the experience of motherhood. The theme of motherhood, in their work as in this thesis, can be celebratory but more often explores doubt and the way being a mother changes and at times seems to subsume one's identity. Becoming a mother also forces one to confront gender in a new way. As a result, poems in "Girls at the Gun Show” and in the work of Elizabeth Weber, Sharon Olds, and Alicia Ostriker look at the way mothers must examine female and male gender in order to raise children appropriately. As women, mothers often find raising boys to be more problematic than raising daughters. Thus, poems in this collection look at the problems inherent in the responsibility of guiding children who will grow into men. As a collection, "Girls at the Gun Show” works in contemporary poetic tradition to examine the themes of place, motherhood, and gender.


poetry, travel, Ozarks, motherhood, gender

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Lora Michelle Knight

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