The use and evaluation of narrative, lyric and constraint in conceptual poetry
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Family Instructions Upon Release tells the story of a loving, close father-daughter relationship disrupted by depression and miscarriage, and ultimately irreparably damaged. During the father’s depression, the daughter struggles with the inaccessibility of help, and the failure of words to guide or comfort. After the father makes a terrible decision, the daughter has to struggle with doubt, fear and loss, finding some answers through the birth of her own son and her identity shift from child to parent. The stage play Twelve Angry Men weaves through the narrative as the daughter tries to understand who is to blame for all that has occurred. The manuscript has a strong lyrical and conceptual focus. The poems are individual lyrical pieces which together tell the story, but they also draw solely on the words found in the Penguin Classics (2006) publication of Twelve Angry Men (Rose, R.) and from the New Zealand Government’s ‘Fact Sheet 4 – Suicide and Self-Harm’. The accompanying exegesis, The Use and Evaluation of Narrative, Lyric and Constraint in Conceptual Poetry, examines how conceptual uncreative poetry can be used to create a narrative of experience and what the resulting text looks and sounds like, what it means, and how closely it aligns to the truth. It further discusses the meeting points between conceptual and lyrical poetry and evaluates the success of the constraint.