In this course dedicated to the unexpected world of poems and poetry, we will be focusing on how to develop your eye and ear as a sensitive reader, whether in literary studies, new frames of history, or your daily encounters. Your perspectives will change for looking closely at a poem with fellow observers. You will be introduced to seeing the familiar in unfamiliar ways. We will look closely at literary practices of attention, repetition, movement, and stillness, as well as the development of patterns and pattern-making, historical and contemporary.
Works of modern and contemporary poets are featured. We’ll also look at genre and form, where these inform our wider perspectives as well. Adrienne Rich says that every poem “breaks a silence that had to be overcome.” We will investigate contemporary and experimental literary strategies of silence, rhythm, diction, depth, pause, and voice—how of all these, and more, contribute to expand the possibilities of what the growing world of poetry restlessly aspires to offer.
We will also take up exciting and emerging topics in literary contexts and online: including intercultural encounters, transformative identity politics, and the expanding world of ecopoetics and performance.
This course aims to sharpen students’ sensibility in encountering poetry deeply. Students will be guided in new ways to meet and negotiate a poem; to widen their knowledge of literary conventions overall, whether as English majors or as concentrators in other fields; and to look with fresh eyes at historical and contextual frames that change the way we not only read but widen our world views.
This is an interactive course with group discussions, class practices, and readings, all of which will address your senses as well as your critical skills in the field. We will meet once a week for three hours. We will study in detail, and widely, to give depth and scope. We will also pay attention to poetry as beautifully-wrought craft and socially-mediated construct.
Coursework accounts for 100% of your grade and will depend on:
-Participation in lecture, writing practices, homework assignments (30%);
-A mid-term assignment (30%);
-Final paper or project (40%)
Readings may include works by Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Hass, Adrienne Rich, Seamus Heaney, Henri Cole, David Malouf, Jack Gilbert, Donald Justice, Pablo Neruda, Adam Zagajewski, Ocean Vuong, and Jenny Xie. Handouts will also include essays, interviews, and personal essays on a selected bibliography.