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Publication Date

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


Samuel Maio


Carver, Creative Writing, English, Poetry, Whitman, Writing

Subject Areas

American Literature; Comparative Literature; Language Arts


This collection serves a dual purpose, functioning as a showcase for original poems and a means of defining certain contemporary verse unaccounted for in the taxonomy used by universities and scholars. The research and art herein challenges the idea that current poems come in one of two stripes: obfuscated or one-dimensional. This work draws a parallel between realistic fiction, long praised for tackling the unseemly side of everyday life, and poetry striving to do the same. Such poems, the author argues, conform to The Poetics of Discomfort. They reject the idea that a poem needs to point to some sort of esoteric message understood by only the erudite and balk at the notion that accessibility equals simplicity. Discomforting poems are marked by self-conscious keenness and are usually based on serious subjects. This makes for work that--though often delightful--seldom slips to the level of entertainment for entertainment's sake.

Rust Stains opens with a critical introduction that defines The Poetics of Discomfort, identifies practitioners, and contributes 48 new poems composed in the same vein. The original work is split into four sections based on the most-common sorts of subject matter favored by the author: childhood, family life and relationships, midlife reflection, and urban celebration. The poems do not purport to be one man's story, but a commentary regarding what it means to be a member of the human tribe at the dawn of the 21st century.