Author Identifiers

Edward Leeming

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1230-3677

Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Natalie Damjanovich-Napoleon

Abstract

'A Father at 1.5 Metres: Poems of Pandemic and Fatherhood' is a 36 poem collection with a connecting theme of uncertainty informed by John Keats‟ concept of negative capability. Negative capability, a term introduced by Keats in 1817, suggests that a writer is benefitted by a refusal of the formation of concrete ideas, that being in uncertainty without needlessly chasing after truth allows for a better understanding of the world, and of more perspectives in their writing. The negatively capable writer is more open to possibilities and of exploring new ideas; this allows them to pursue what Keats calls “beauty”, or what Lyotard would consider as an impartation of a sublime understanding.

Fatherhood is a transformative process; not only was I trying to figure out the needs, desires and behaviours of my newborn, I was also trying to reconfigure my sense of personal identity. I am no longer connected to my partner by a simple tether; there is a fragile cord that dangles beneath, that feels each and every pull on that tether, my daughter Freya. Parenthood is a delicate and amazing time of life; moments of joy are interlaced with tensions, questions and concerns. The COVID-19 pandemic created a unique experience of social isolation, hesitancy and unease. Each day brings more unknowns, more infections, more need for controls, and more desire for stability and certainties. This collection of poetry explores the coalescence between fatherhood and the pandemic. The challenges of caring for my daughter during a pandemic brought about new understandings of my identity, of conflicting desires to show my daughter the world and a hesitancy to leave for fear of infection, and the need to buy toilet paper earlier than expected.

Each poem within the collection was the result of a reflective process that explores some aspect of my uncertainties during this changing time of my life with Keats‟ negative capability an ideological lens that guided this reflection. This is not to say that being in uncertainty is a negative state of mind; being uncertain allows for greater flexibility and a sense of openness to deal with an ever-changing situation. No two days during a pandemic are the same, nor are two moments with a child. I have come to realise that uncertainty, of a capacity to adapt and remain open to new possibilities, is an integral part of life as a parent and as a writer.

The accompanying exegesis 'Embracing Uncertainty: An Exploration of Negative Capability' is primarily a reflective essay that considers how my research, context and methods informed the writing of my collection. The essay explores how my studies of negative capability and connected ideas were foundational for the writing of this collection; and for my development as a writer.

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Access to this thesis is restricted to the exegesis.

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