Master of Fine Arts
Date of Defense
Steven Schreiner, PhD
Like I’m Dead is a collection of poetry tracing the separate lives of one speaker from the other side of catastrophe—the survivor’s side; an epitaph for a past life. The speaker’s disaster is divorce — one that has triggered in the speaker a fracturing floe of identity, a cumulatively dimming source in the process of defracturing at the demands of ongoing life, materiality, parenting, dating—
Life goes on, certainly, but where did the other go? the other life? self? Some of the poems depict the speaker coming to grips with moving on, with the fact that his daughter was born inside the disaster and in a way this disaster cannot be grieved, only possessed. Others actually move on. The speaker knows his father’s moving on too. Some of the poems cover his dying. But there are a few that lie outside this memoir zone (a terrorist attack in suburbia, a scorned man with a gun, there are even love poems that belong to no one) … and perhaps the challenge the text posits is in the refrain to ask why or how these fit into a fold—have been placed in common between dissolution and imminence—It is precisely this fold where disaster leaves its survivors, in the unknown, the ungraspable—below a surface—It’s where they take place on the way to knowledge. But also in throes of gradual return—the unwelcome newness as grief wanes and life goes on— How to go on when you are not a whole person? when part of you has actually been obliterated from space and time? when a version of self vaporously struggles for the helm against being, against fact, against action … This isn’t necessarily the question the text is posing, but it is the question around which the speaker of Like I’m Dead is mulling—These poems are evidence of his experience with the question.
Blasingame, Brit, "Like I'm Dead" (2011). Theses. 110.