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.
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