Covino, Peter

Advisor Department





creative writing; poetry; Modernism; Avant-garde

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I have memories of being in my room with a notebook, scribbling lines and rhymes about cats and fireworks. I have proof of these memories—a staple- bound booklet of poetry, illustrated with clipart and colorful text. I was so proud of the work; it was the project of a third grader’s time, effort, imagination, and mind. Even in my movement from that childhood room to the campus at the University of Rhode Island; and my maturity from nursery rhymes to Chaucer and Shakespeare, I have always carried a passion for language and creativity.

For the Honors Project, I wanted to return to the intricate roots of poetry, specifically poetry defined by the Modernist Avant-garde movement: poetry that is textured, complex, intertextual, that examines the self in an ever-changing world. The project consists of two main components: one, an in-depth survey of four modernist poets; the other, the writing of original poetry. In my focus on the works of Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, Wallace Stevens, and Blaise Cendrars, I pay attention to poetic technique and application of poetic elements, while also considering the works’ application to broader contexts. Two of these contexts are my personal writings and public performance. In the poems that make up my collection, I attempt to emulate aspects of poetic presentation that I observed in my survey of modernists. In a curated reading, I will supplement original work with photography and examples of modern art in an attempt to intensify and enrich the experience of the poetry—poetry has certainly added intensity and richness to my experience. Through my experience of composition and performance, I not only improve my ability to navigate the intricacies of language, imagery, form, and sound; but, I also begin to discover and develop my own poetic voice within the context of a continuously metamorphosing literary art form.

When I transferred to URI as a junior, I was still developing my voice and presence within the world. In my short time at URI, I have transformed considerably—a transformation largely influenced by my engagement with poetry. I have become bolder across the page and in life; I take more risks and am more inclined to explore unfamiliar territory, both in my writing and my actions; I have learned to confidently inhabit my poetry and comfortably inhabit space. The culmination of my project: a curated reading and collection of original poetry in the form of a chapbook, is meant to demonstrate my own metamorphosis—both personal and literary.

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