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Publication Date

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


J. M. Martinez

Subject Areas

English literature


River Dreams is a collection of poetry that focuses on the experiences of a Chicano speaker navigating the borderlands, and the absence of water from two rivers, the Los Angeles River and the Río Nazas. The two rivers provide a geographical anchor to the speaker’s family living in the United States and México. The collection highlights how human-made changes to the rivers via dams, or channelizing through concrete, has affected the environment in ways that will impact generations of brown people residing in those areas. The poems are written primarily through a surrealistic lens by which water takes on human characteristics, blurring the line between conventional western notions of the self and the environment. They place in question the legal “personhood” of water. Surrealism facilitates the navigation of difficult topics such as racism, death, and lack of natural resources. The poems are thematically linked via investigation of social issues, labor intensive work, and bodies of water, images of the cities of Torreón, Coahuila, and South East/East LA.

Available for download on Monday, March 20, 2028