Crowther, Claire (2008) Retiree. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Retiree includes two sections: a collection of poems, called The Clockwork Gift, and a short thesis called Granny in the Canon. The Clockwork Gift is the major contribution to this PhD submission. It is a collection of short lyric poems about ageing and grandmotherhood in contemporary society. The collection began as a project to write grandmother poems and ended with a set of poems that represent the older self in the world. A very loose narrative thread links the poems in that the early poems reflect the beginning of active grandmotherhood and the later ones show physical decline and a tussle with spiritual or philosophical ideas. The contemporary view of age as, for example, less attractive than youth is made metaphorical in various guises such as an imaginary animal (the thike). Age is defmed as the human in a state of bodily history. A long poem, 'The Herebefore " is an expression of the twentieth century love affair with personal history. 'The Herebefore' also exemplifies the theme of the thesis, that a metaphor for the recurring loss of women's poetry from the canon is used in some grandmother poems written by women. One formal aim of these poems is to foreground language. A wide vocabulary is used and notes are provided to help readers. Prose passages placed alongside verse stanzas use form to express change. Cutting and condensing are common techniques in this collection, appropriate to examine the brevity and loss of capacity of older age. The poems allow the reader to engage with meaning and are written to deliver meanings slowly. Granny in the Canon, Grandmother Poems in Contemporary British Women's Poetry, is a study in five chapters. In it, I suggest that increasing numbers of poems are being written that incorporate references to 'grandmother' and I refer to such poems as grandmother poems. The study places the contemporary English-language grandmother poem in a social, literary and feminist context and makes close textual analysis of a number of grandmother poems written by female poets and one poem written by a male poet. My main theme is the argument that some grandmother poems written by women lament the recurring loss of women's poetry from the canon. I include a brief analysis of the genesis and development of my poetry collection, The Clockwork Gift.

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