Focused Poetry Workshop
This course is an intensive poetry writing workshop in which each student will produce original work and submit it to the class for analysis, close reading, line editing, discussion of theme and content, and suggestions for revision. Depending on class size, students will have the chance to submit several poems and receive critical feedback. We will use Jack Myers' Portable Poetry Workshop, a text focusing on both craft and workshop guidance/tips.
Poetry Genres is a lit class in which we examine the integral elements of a poem: What is the purpose of The Line? The metaphorical image? Does the poem make sounds? Against what sort of cage does it rattle? Are you Team Open Poem or Team Closed Poem? What makes a poem “succeed”? We focus on each poetic element in two-week units, discussing various ancient & contemporary examples from the readings. The primary focus is discussion, although the course also includes journal exercises and brief essays.
The Lyric Essay
Just when you think that you, reader or writer, have a handle on what the lyric essay is, it slips away and turns into something else. Meet it for coffee when it's prose, but understand it's also having a drink with someone else across the street as poetry. Here is what you know for sure: it's honest, it's true, it's surprising, its hair is a little messy, it is at once lyrically gorgeous and precisely organized, and it prefers the scenic route through the body, the past, the self, the external world. Examples of challenging & excellent contemporary lyric essayists include Anne Carson, Michael Ondaatje, Sarah Manguso, and John D'Agata.
Here's Anne Carson:
“I used to think when I was younger and writing that each idea had a certain shape and when I started to study Greek and I found the word morphe it was for me just the right word for that, unlike the word shape in English which falls a bit short morphe in Greek means the sort of plastic contours that an idea has inside your all your senses when you grasp it the first moment and it always seemed to me that a work should play out that same contour in its form. So I can’t start writing something down til I get a sense of that, that morphe. And then it unfolds, I wouldn’t say naturally, but it unfolds gropingly by keeping only to the contours of that form whatever it is.”
Selected Emphases in Poetry: Women Poets
This course explores the lyric in the hands of women from antiquity to present day. Our focus will be culturally diverse—we'll read a range including Sappho, ancient Japanese fragments, E. B. Browning, Adrienne Rich, etc. In addition, we'll explore select themes in women's poetry: women & men, motherhood, lesbianism, women & God, women & their mothers. Ultimately, the course is designed to engage with poetry written by women as well as what it means to be a woman who creates.
Adv. Poetry Workshop: Prose Poetry
A prose poem intends to be a poem in its attention to language, but does not employ the use of line like regular poetry. It resembles prose, and in fact, it is cousin to short prose such as flash fiction and the lyric essay. Prose poems may be narrative-based or not. They may have complete, grammatically sound sentences or odd fragments. They may be glimpses of something or the whole shebang. They may brim with metaphor or not. They may be one-sentence or two pages long. They balance the said and the unsaid. They have the same goal as any poem: to wallop the reader with some emotional impact. We will spend the term reading, writing, and discussing a variety of prose poems.
Selected Emphases in Fiction: Magical Realism
Magical realism is, more than anything else, an attitude toward reality that can be expressed in popular or cultured forms, in elaborate or rustic styles in closed or open structures. In magical realism the writer confronts reality and tries to untangle it, to discover what is mysterious in things, in life, in human acts. The principle thing is not the creation of imaginary beings or worlds but the discovery of the mysterious relationship between man and his circumstances. In magical realism key events have no logical or psychological explanation. The magical realist does not try to copy the surrounding reality or to wound it but to seize the mystery that breathes behind things.
Luis Leal, Magical Realism in Spanish American Literature. Magical Realism. Ed. Zamora and Faris
In this course, we will attempt to discover what magical realist writers have found in their quest "to seize the mystery that breathes behind things." We will read and discuss short fiction by Nikolai Gogol, Rainer Maria Rilke, Isaac Babel, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, and Italo Calvino. We will also concentrate on a what is considered the foremost work of South American magical realist fiction, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. We'll encounter a character followed everywhere by yellow butterflies. We'll watch the path of blood from a dying man wind its way through the streets to the door of his mother's house. We'll discuss common themes and symbols in magical realist fiction. We'll learn that in magical realism two worlds can exist simultaneously in one larger world, and how this balance is reflective of particular cultural beliefs.
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