Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Alan Nadel

Abstract

Nikky Finney’s Head Off & Split illuminates an urgent and radical eco-political project: the creation of whole, resilient, co-species communities capable of surviving interlocking political, social, and ecological crises. Finney foregrounds the strategic practice of belonging as a method of survival within contexts of systemic oppression and climate chaos. “Belonging,” in these terms, is not a “natural” ontological state, but a mode of co-being that is continually (re)created and (re)enacted through daily world-making practices: foodways, spatial habitation, migration and movement. Belonging is a collection of reciprocal, adaptive, situated praxes that make and sustain beings and worlds. They rely on and affirm a particular imaginary of wholeness defined by entanglement, relationality, diversity, and complexity to create a sense of contribution to that-which-is-beyond-the-self and the more-than-self. Wholeness, in turn, can only exist when beings and collectives act and interact through practices of belonging. Wholeness and belonging as they emerge in Finney’s work are, therefore, mutually dependent and co-creative. Though Finney’s poetry lays bare the scaffolded effects of oppressive power structures, it is also deeply hopeful in its attention to cyclic processes of nourishment and regenerative possibility.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.222

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