Writing the 20th Century: Graduate Poetry Workshop       
WRITING 5000, section 5                  
Fall 2008
Instructor: Amy England                         

In this course, we will read some of the major American poets of the 20th century, and use them as an approach to our own writing.  The week’s class will alternate between these readings and workshops of general poetic exercises based on these readings.  As we move through some of the 20th century’s stylistic and formal innovations, we will build up a body of suggested poetic forms to try. You should email your poems out the Tuesday before the workshop.

To pass the course, students need to write six poems for workshops, and to give an oral presentation on a few poems by a 20th century poet of their choice, accompanied by a five page paper (in addition, of course, to doing the readings and contributing to the discussions of them and the comments on your fellow students’ work).  Bring copies of the paper for the class.  Students can miss now more than two classes, including late arrivals and late enrollment.  In the case of an extended illness, you should contact Health Services; for other serious problems that affect your ability to attend (like a death in the family, for example), contact the Academic Advising Office.  

Required books:

Ezra Pound, Selected Cantos
Jean Toomer, Cane
Lorine Neidecker, Granite Pail
Allen Ginsberg, Kaddish
Theresa Cha: Dictee

Suggested books:
Guide to the Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound

Aug. 28    Rhyme and meter; Emily Dickinson and ballad measure, “The Wasteland” and fragmentation; some uses of traditional form in 20th century poetry

Sept. 4    Pound’s Selected Cantos.  We will cover the first four especially closely.

Sept. 11    Poem using traditional form, such as the Petrarchan sonnet, ballad measure, blank verse. Poem using rhyme. Haiku. Poem using fragmentation as unit (not as easy as it sounds–how do you signify disjunction?)  OR: A poem in homage to, or in argument with, Dickinson, Whitman, Eliot, Pound

Sept. 18    Stein: Tender Buttons.  Available online at http://www.bartleby.com/140/

Sept. 25    Language to represent thought, exact records of speech, a cubist poem

Oct. 2        Toomer’s Cane and the Harlem Renaissance

Oct. 9        Blues lyrics, a prose poem, a hybrid form that uses both line and prose

Oct.16       Neidecker’s Granite Pail

Oct. 23     An objectivist poem, a poem as a close exploration of place

Oct. 30    Williams:
        Excerpt from “Kora in Hell”
        “The Red Wheelbarrow”
        “Landscape with Fall of Icarus”
        from “Asphodel, that Greeny Flower”
        First section of Paterson
        Charles Olson, selection from Maximus Poems

Nov. 6     an imagist poem, an ekphrastic poem, a poem exploring the relationship between line and natural speech or line and breath, a poem as a musical score

Nov. 13    Ginsberg, Kaddish, concentrating on title poem
Nov. 20    a poem using improvisation, an elegy


Dec. 1-5    Critique Week; optional meetings on presentation papers

Dec. 12     Cha’s Dictee, with written response (creative or critical)   

© 2014 Amy England, rights reserved