Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Nikky Finney

Abstract

“Growing Up Water” is a full-length manuscript consisting of one long poem in two parts. Louisiana is one of the most verdant naturally fertile states in the U.S. The state loses a football field of land almost every one-hundred minutes. This is largely due to climate change, oil drilling in the gulf, the cutting of canals, the waste poured in to the Mississippi river by the chemical plants that line this area (known as “Cancer Alley”), the onslaught of invasive species, the list goes on. Furthermore, due to global warming, “big” hurricanes are only becoming stronger and more frequent. Any land that would create a buffer is eroding away. The speaker within this long poem, known as Tadpole, is a child growing up in this world. As she grows, she is taught to love her home for its fecundity, the flora, the fauna, and the people who live(d) there. This poem is a eulogy for that home, for the nature and for the people in southeastern Louisiana. It is a celebration of the people and the place, the animals and the plants, the language, the culture. However, as a child growing up within these natural (ie. man-made) disasters, Tadpole’s perception of home cannot be separated from this reality. She has to reckon with the deep pain that comes from these constant disastrous events. As she matures, she discovers that she lives in a world where her home, and everything in it, is being destroyed every minute. In this manuscript, home represents beauty but it also embodies the loss of innocence and a deep grief. In this long poem, Tadpole searches for an understanding of why she feels bound to this place and ultimately must remain, even when faced with the constant risk of destruction and loss.

Available for download on Friday, May 31, 2024

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