College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


Heather Paul


Poetry, Place Poetry, Whidbey Island, Poetry Process


Creative Writing | Fine Arts


This thesis contains a collection of poems about Whidbey Island, its plants, wildlife, landscape, character, historical and community events, legends, and landmarks. I have written these out of curiosity about my new location as I begin to claim this place as my home. Imagery will help readers understand the place. Yet some aspects of the place may also, sometimes, function as analogies to help readers understand something else. I have used my knowledge of Whidbey Island in a way that I hope will help readers grasp more than what people can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste in this place. My poems are an invitation to form a connection: writer to reader, experiencing a unique part of creation and honoring its Creator. The critical paper explores the process of creating a place poem: a not-quite-linear journey from the poet’s relationship with a place to an enticing new discovery to a representation of that discovery in the form of a poem. What begins with place ends in poetry, but accurately portraying the nature of a place through poetry requires inspired passion, diligent research, and precise presentation. Successfully combining these elements will result in poetry that leads readers into an experience of the poet’s place. Regarding my experience of Whidbey Island, I have divided this thesis into four sections. “Close to Home Encounters” are poems about wonders discovered within view of my home: flora, fauna, mountains, and a harbor. Poems found in “Island Explorations” celebrate Whidbey’s landscape, sights, and structure. “Cultural Immersions” invite readers to experience the traditions, celebrations, legends, occupations, and hobbies of Whidbey’s people. Finally, “Historical Allusions” are poems that reveal history’s influence on modern-day Whidbey. The island and my observations of it serve as the collection’s unifying theme.