Date of Award


Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Katherine Larson

Second Advisor

Debra Marquart


“Sun Standing Still” is a collection of poems that examines and reflects upon time’s passing. From time immemorial people have observed the sun’s movement and marked the solstices as a stabilizing, meaningful force. It appeared that at solstice, the sun stood still for three days, thus the etymology of the astronomical event draws from sol and sticere — sun and standing still. In “Sun Standing Still,” a story unfolds of a journey the speaker takes to Italy — a crossroads of intense physical loveliness and culture — with a friend who is courageously navigating her cancer diagnosis. The concept of solstice is explored through art, science, and lived experience. Throughout, time is measured through an almost acute awareness of the sun as it approaches and passes the summer solstice. The book has several paths that wend across Italy, traverse illness, progress toward — and through — death, while also looking closely at specific, superb Italian paintings and sculptures which help us regain equilibrium in the face of loss. One specific piece is the astrological art in the Baptistery in Florence, Italy, one of the oldest references in the area to the sun as heliocentric that also physically marked the solstice. A subtheme touches on the two protagonists’ exceptional travels to install artist David Barr’s innovative, world-wide sculptures.