Date of Award

December 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Adam Kitzes


My dissertation, Willow, Abuelo & Me is a collection of 50 poems that interrogates the site of deep childhood sexual trauma that I experienced when I was five years old at the hands of my step-grandfather, and the consequences of that trauma on my adult life. This collection has several strands woven together in order to come to understand and relay this trauma. The first strand is a poetic retelling of dark Germanic fairy tales where children are often put through tests by their abusive caretakers. The second being “breaks” from the darkness or moments of brevity and light to offset the claustrophobia of reliving traumatic memory. The third being the retelling of the traumatic experiences and how it not only affected me as a child but my family. The fourth strand outlines the echoes of child abuse in adult life and how I managed and coped with these echoes. This is not a recovery narrative, but rather tidal waves from a tsunami, a lyric capturing of the aftermath of abuse and its refrains. These strands are laced together based on my chronological memories, my discussions with my family and my messy interlinear attempts to heal from these events. They can individually stand on their own (many have been published independently of one another), but they are at their most powerful as a collective unit, as they support and understand each other, many reference each other, and so should be read in the order laid out in this collection. The prospectus which critically introduces this project, defines several important terms relevant to this collection. It defines the terms: lyric, erasure, apostrophe, lyric time, repetition, symbol, fragmentation, as well as the movements of confessionalism and post-confessionalism. By spending several years defining and learning the meaning of these terms, I am best able to employ these lyric strategies within my manuscript and see where my work best fits within the grander scope of post-confessional poetics. It also deeply strengthened my craft and cultivated a greater understanding of the lyric genre as a whole.