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Reinventing the Garden and Other Poems with Critical Introduction

Michael Mueller, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation contains a collection of poetry, a sample from a manuscript entitled “Reinventing the Garden”, as well as a critical introduction that situates my creative work within a place-based regional consciousness of the American South. In the introduction, I consider the implications of place-based critical analysis in a globalized world and complicate the contexts in which regionality remains a productive mode of criticism. Ultimately, these questions are inseparable from the thematic explorations in my creative work which seeks to explore ideas of home, lineage, family, and relationships to community in lyric poetic form. Poems here are influenced by the physical landscape of my native South Carolina—a physical space that combines woods, mountains, beaches—and the end of land on out to the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the physical landscape of my memory creeps into the work throughout, and while lyric poems explore intimate topics like love, death, sexuality, family, and isolation, the land and its imagery serves as a foundation for the basis of event and experience. I also identify my conception of what forces New Southern writing is capable of challenging, and provide models of poets for my work whom I admire and emulate—contemporary poets writing into the idea of a past that is simultaneously just a memory, a ghost, and yet always lingering; poets deeply invested in place, its personal and collective history, and the ways lyric poetry explores intimacy, family, and community when investigating not just conceptions of home, but rootedness as a way of thinking about belonging—themes which I hope my own lyric poetry explores in inventive and personal ways, while also exploring faith, addiction, and familial relation in shaping attachment to where and to whom we say we ultimately ‘belong’.

Subject Area

Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Mueller, Michael, "Reinventing the Garden and Other Poems with Critical Introduction" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI27668080.