A poetics of presence: The liminal space and materiality of poetry and visual art

Date of Publication


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Subject Categories

Creative Writing | Poetry


College of Liberal Arts


Literature, Department of

Thesis Advisor

Ronald Baytan

Defense Panel Chair

Mesándel V. Arguelles

Defense Panel Member

Dinah T. Roma
Vincenz Serrano


The poetry collection entitled will you tell me what I look like? melds together the verbal and visual arts to demonstrate a “poetics of presence” that this project attempts to establish. Using different variations of visual and verbal intermingling, the collection features image-text poems, traditional ekphrastic poems, self-ekphrastic poems, poems that use the poetic space as visual space, and reverse-ekphrastic poems. Chapter 1 of the critical component of the thesis starts with a discussion of Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery as poets who consistently worked with the artists of their time. These interactions led to their innovative use of language and ekphrastic poetry. The ideas of Marjorie Perloff and Ludwig Wittgenstein shaped my understanding of poetry and the liminal space between the verbal and visual arts. A discussion of their writings contextualizes my own position and practice as a poet in a developing country. A brief section is dedicated to A Humument by Tom Philips to illustrate what the welding of poetry and visual art may do. Chapter 2 gives examples of experimental and avant-garde tendencies in the history of Filipino poetry in English. Examples of modernist, ekphrastic, and image-text poems originating from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond are also given to further locate my poetry collection within the tradition. In chapter 3, selected poems from will you tell me what I look like? will be discussed to show the different ways I explored and experimented with the interactions between the verbal and the visual. The project concludes with a presentation of “the poetics of presence” as a personal manifesto to discuss the possible effects and implications of the verbal-visual experimentations.

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