Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Debra Marquart

Second Advisor

Chen Chen

Third Advisor

Justin Tussing


Atlas in Transit is a collection of poems circling around the precarity and resilience of people in transit from Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia and other countries to Greece beginning in 2015 in what became the biggest forced migration in the world since WWII. The collection offers witness poems about people fleeing their homelands within a larger historical context, with nods to Sappho, Minoan pots, Byzantine and Ottoman history, the Genocide of 1922, and silhouettes crossing the burning sun. Many poems rely upon formal forms—villanelle, terza rima, ghazal, haiku— as well as broken-step couplets, found conversations, and redacted documents. The poems attempt to dislodge quickly fixed imagery of “the refugee,” seeking language that carries contradiction and balance, atrocity with humanity, the forces of love with the forces of loss. The poems curate details of living and loving to offer a symbolic map as they circle around suffering, empathy, and the work of art to bare/bear witness.