Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Degree Name

Creative Writing (Poetry)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Ed Skoog


creative writing, poetry


University of Montana


Enter the room with a black contractor bag rolled up. Walk to the center of the room, unroll the contractor bag, shake it as you would to fit it to a garbage can, and pull it over your head. Feel your way to the nearest wall and “smooch” along it. The bag, as you rub your shoulder along the wall, should naturally begin to twist so that it spins around you as you are walking within it. This will create the illusion that you are twirling, and the bag will begin to replicate skin. If there is external sound, be cognizant of it, and in moments when you sense the sound has halted, you should also halt, remaining pressed against the wall, or the corners of the room, until the sound resumes. Take the time to retreat or advance along the wall as you see fit. When you reach the door, exit the room maintaining the same cadence until the door has fully closed behind you and you are no longer being observed. Ordinal is an exploration of obscene consumption. The images and words consumed can be understood to symbolize the consumption of the body. This piece may register as significant of a sexual act or acts, but is intended to be understood as solitary, selfish consumption in place of something lacking. The substitution of the consumed for that which is unattainable or unknown is an individual desire often carried out privately as a form of grief. The rupture of this privation can be interpreted as the resistance to know or confront the aesthetic truths of our desires. One of the most approachable ways to acknowledge grief is to plagiarize it’s most powerful symbols or triggers and to make them absurd. I am haunted by the image of a black contractor bag. This body of work takes measure of the grief it inhabits, weighs the constraints and usefulness of this grief as a habitat or environment in which to enact solitude, violence, or ecstasy, and generates its own conclusions.

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© Copyright 2013 Alison Elizabeth Riley