Date of Graduation


Document Type

UAF Access Only - Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)

Degree Level





Geoffrey Brock

Committee Member

John Duval

Second Committee Member

Sidney Burris


Scottish, Makars, literary translation


This thesis comprises two separate creative projects: 1) a series of original poems in three parts entitled Fieldnotes; and 2) a selection of literary translations of poems written in the 15th and early 16th centuries by a group of Scottish poets known as the Makars.

In Fieldnotes, I have attempted to find a poetic form and method that allows me to document what seem to me significant or emblematic moments in my life. The poems are connected to one another in the sense that they are strung along the thread of my lived experience and are arranged more or less in chronological order. However, it is my hope that many of them succeed as individual poems on their own. This project has allowed me to approach the intersection of lyric and narrative modes of writing—in fact, the tension between these two modes has become one of my chief interests (along with the normal slew of problems more commonly associated with writing any kind of memoir). While many of these individual poems have seen multiple revisions and could be considered “finished,” the project as a whole feels to me more like a beginning than an end. There are many gaps in the series, and I see now that I have avoided writing some of the more difficult (and important) poems.

The translations come from three poets who wrote in an English dialect called Middle Scots. As can be seen in the originals, the language is recognizable as a form of English, but there are many words and phrases that are undecipherable for most readers. The Makars were innovative, playful, and often quite funny in their poetry, and while dedicated readers can find access to accurate critical apparatus, the disruptive difficulty of constantly referring to glossaries and notes robs the general reader of the pleasures that these poems offer. My goal in translating these poems is to grant readers a more immediate sense of the merits these poems display that they might better appreciate the efforts of the Makars and their contribution to English literature.