Master of Fine Arts
Date of Defense
Steven Schreiner, PhD.
Shrimp, is a collection of original poems that addresses the notion of identity. The speaker in the collection begins by questioning his ancestry. Using historical narrative, personal experience, and the development of characters; the writing weaves the complexity of post-colonial ideas with contemporary concepts. Ethnic markers such as hair texture, skin color, and size serve as metaphor for larger issues that occur in society, not just for the speaker in the poems, but for populations of oppressed people of color in urban environments as well. Having done research by interviewing family members, analyzing paternal and maternal DNA, while also studying the surname, I included my findings in the poetry itself. Integrating personal history and anthropology into the narrative, the poems serve as moments in time revealing the emotions that link to the discovery of self and loss. This collection of poems also serves as the culmination of over five years of historical family research. With roots that begin in Cameroon, West Africa, to New York in the New World, then on to Aberdeen Mississippi and Mariana Arkansas in the American South, I found the research fascinating. In the end, the speaker no longer questions his ancestral background, but embraces it as the essence of who his is. With the knowledge of his ancestral home, the speaker is led to more questions that extend beyond the arbitrariness of blackness and whiteness in American society, but adds to the conversation of identity on a global level.
Vasser, Jason Nicholas, "Shrimp" (2014). Theses. 129.