The Bullet In Her Pocket
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The Bullet In Her Pocket is a narrative, book-length poetic sequence that explores the ontology and ethics of secrets while interrogating the way history is archived, discovered, and invented. The poems tell the story of Anna, a young woman born to Sicilian immigrants in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1920s; Biagio, a petty thief with connections to the Mafia; and their daughter Cecilia. Cecilia is conceived while the couple is dating and shortly before Biagio is arrested and imprisoned, thus forcing Anna to confess her pregnancy to her parents who insist she give her daughter up for adoption. What follows is a family drama infused with shame and deception as the characters struggle to draw boundaries between their public and private lives. The poems are populated with items from the domestic realm—worn, feminine, familiar—and disrupted by violence just outside the frame. Informed by and in conversation with contemporary poets such as Rita Dove, Claudia Emerson, A. Van Jordan, and Ted Genoways, my dissertation attempts to use the lyric tradition as a tool to excavate historical truth by marrying artifact and invention, developing a narrative from fragmented and incomplete records. In the narrative sequence, individual poems may exhibit varying levels of lyric capacity—that is, the voice of a single speaker, the isolation of a moment—but ultimately, the sequence as a whole, and many of the individual poems, are driven by my interest in telling a story that is deeply connected to its social context.