Graduate thesis explores poetry and human body


Scientific diagram of the human body illustrated by Emilee Covers.

Maggie Duly

 Inspiration comes from all around. It’s a fickle creature that tends to sneak up and overcome you in one foul swoop. As the semester comes to an end, the culmination of final projects often provides some relief and weight lifted. These final projects are tiny windows into the minds of inspired, creative individuals. They often relay passion. 

Graduate student Randi Clemens spent the semester working on her thesis project to fulfill her Master’s in Fine Arts Degree in creative writing. Clemens has been studying creative writing with a focus in poetry at NMU for the past three years. 

“My thesis project is a full length poetry manuscript. This means I wrote an entire original poetry book,” Clemens said. “My poems center around themes of the human body, specifically the female body, maternal anxieties, and post-death bodies used for scientific research and educational purposes.” 

Her manuscript is titled “All This Plastic, All This Glass.” She was inspired to pursue this topic in her book of poems after visiting the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago a few years ago. 

“One of the exhibits there called ‘Prenatal Development’ really resonated with me. It is an exhibit that showcases real human fetuses at various stages of development. I knew I had to write about it,” Clemens said. “The exhibit ended up being a catalyst for my project, but also really encapsulates all of the themes that my poetry tends to talk about.” 

Through this project Clemens was able to find her “creative zone” and learn further time management skills. 

“It can be hard to produce writing that you are proud of when you are forced to sit down and write instead of just when the inspiration hits,” Clemens said. 

Clemens was faced with a difficult task, as were other students, when classes were put online for the remainder of the semester. Motivation ran low and she was unable to meet with her thesis committee near the end, Clemens said. 

Sophomore art and design major Emilee Covers aided the project by designing a scientific diagram of the body to accompany the poetry, Clemens said, she couldn’t have created the proper visual without her help. 

Clemens hopes that her project helps inspire others to explore the endless nature of poetry. 

“I would like to encourage others to try out poetry whether that be reading it or writing it. It can be scary, intimidating, and hard to understand at first, but I think there are kinds of poetry out there for everyone. You just have to find them,” Clemens said.