From Bethlehem

Open Access
Author:
Campbell, Jacqueline Marie
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • poetry
  • labor
  • industry
  • steel
  • Bethlehem
Abstract:
These poems investigate the inner life of a city and a community. Through poems that range from personal revelations to documentary snapshots, the collection explores the experience of growing up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: a post-industrial city whose shuttered steel mill was converted into a casino in 2009. The poems contain a multiplicity of voices, and borrow language from interviews with steelworkers, community members, historical documents and the lyric voice of the poet. Using the city as their framework, the poems explore labor, illness, family, memory and the tension between attachment to place and the desire for escape. The collection links sick cities to sick bodies, and offers the possibility of hope. Although the problem of lost industry has been well-trod by other contemporary writers, this collection seeks to do something different: to resist the extremes of wistful nostalgia or flat acceptance, and instead illuminate the city’s situation through curiosity about the past and loving concern for the future. The poems don’t seek to fix or judge, but instead strive to accomplish the real task of poetry: to see and make clear.