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Homemade mantra

George Such, Western Washington University


Employing a blend of narrative and lyric poetry, this collection contemplates the idea of home, considers the many realms in which this concept/feeling may be found (including oppressive ones) and often conceives home outside of its usual context, thus "un-domesticating" it, a move hinted at in the epigraph. In Part One, the poems emanate from Asian settings, where the speaker journeys after the end of his marriage, a time when his sense of home has been dissolved. In his travels he develops a Buddhist-like awareness, a sense of home which he brings to America in Section Two of the thesis. This transfer expresses itself in the title of the first poem of Part Two, "From One World into Another." The idea that home resides in the speaker's attention and attitude reaches its full development in the penultimate title poem, where this concept is articulated in the mantra, and then demonstrated in the speaker's walk down Taylor Street. The thesis concludes with the speaker returning to his hometown of Peoria where he experiences home as "a mind turned inside out." With few exceptions, these poems are grounded in place. Home can be anywhere. Although there are many characters in this collection (family members, friends, brief acquaintances, lovers, patients, therapists, surgeons, and relatives) they mostly remain unnamed, blending into the poems' venues. Although the characters' voices are often heard ("Today's Newspaper" is nothing but a character's voice) those voices strongly reflect a particular place and moment. Recurring images in this thesis include: the body and body parts (especially hands and eyes), shadows and light, fire, water, fish, insects, birds, mammals, trees, feces, stone, temples and shrines. Actions which reappear in the collection include: walking, grasping, touching, the use of a knife or scalpel, death, contamination, therapeutic body work, transportation, and smiling. Structurally, most of the collection is written in free verse stanzas, although there is one slant rhymed sonnet and three prose poems, one of these with three separately titled sections.