College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


Heather Paul


Poetry, Body, Imagery, Psychology


Creative Writing


Mary Oliver writes that imagery is the texture of a poem, and the “detailed, sensory language incorporating images . . . gives the poem dash and tenderness” (Oliver 92). Imagery brings poetry to life, offering the reader a whole-body experience over simple description. Oliver cautions, however, that imagery is powerful and should be used responsibility, further implying that this texture can also become jolting, harsh, or offensive if used incorrectly (Oliver 107-108). With this caution in mind, the purpose of my forty-six poem collection—Tomb and Temple: Letters to the Body—is to use images of the body responsibly, in a way that communicates messages of healing and mental wellbeing. As someone who previously held destructive views regarding the body, this creative work portrays new perspectives on the body that helped me in reaching a personal state of psychological wellbeing. Throughout the critical paper, I also explore how traditional and contemporary poets have used positive body imagery to communicate similar messages of psychological wellbeing. Thus, my proposed thesis title is “Tomb and Temple: The Poet’s Use of Positive Body Imagery to Communicate Messages of Psychological Wellbeing.” The following proposal not only will provide a more in-depth overview of my vision and motive for the creative project, but also will thoroughly survey past literature to display how positive body imagery within works of poetry have aided authors’ messages of mental health and wellbeing.