Undergraduate Workshop: Introduction to Writing Poetry                    
WRIT 2040 
Instructor: Amy England

Contents of course: we will begin with a discussion of the difference between poetry and prose, a consideration of what exactly it is that makes poetic language poetic. Then we will read and discuss seven American poets, some canonical modernists and some contemporary, whose work especially exemplifies one of these elements. Every other week, we will have a workshop based on these readings and discussions. As time allows, I’ll supply in-class exercises, which can also be developed into workshop pieces. You must obtain the books, either through purchasing them or the library. Please be aware that you need to buy the books from the bookstore early, as they start to send them back to the publisher a few weeks into the semester. Ordering from Amazon can also take quite a while. Eliot and Stein are available online, but the rest are not.

Requirements: You are allowed to miss no more than TWO CLASSES or their equivalent in partially missed classes to pass the course, including late enrollment, illnesses, etc. There are seven workshop assignments and six response papers to the readings and you can miss no more than two assignments. You should participate in discussions in a way that reflects your thoughtful and engaged reading of the material, and you should have written comments to give people whose work is up for each workshop.  
    The response papers should be a minimum of one typed, double-spaced page about a poem or several poems by the author under discussion that day. The paper might start from a very simple place, your own emotional response to a poem, for example, but it should try to develop a thesis about the text, and support this idea with language from the text. If you use secondary sources, you must cite them. Papers should be posted on the portal or given to me at the beginning of class. The purpose of the response paper is to enhance discussion, so their being turned in promptly is especially important.
    As we go through the readings, we will collect a list of possible exercises for poems based on them. While the exercises are broad, the list is also cumulative, so if you are uninspired by a particular exercise, or cannot adjust it to suit your interests, you can always go back and use an earlier one. Poems should be emailed through the portal by the night before class at the very latest.

Required Texts:

Ann Carson: The Autobiography of Red
T. S. Eliot: The Wasteland
Harryette Mullen: Sleeping with the Dictionary
Andrea Rexilius: Half the Things They Carried Flew Away (Letter Machine Editions)
Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons
Jean Toomer: Cane
William Carlos Williams: Pictures from Brueghel

I: 9/10 Stein: precursor to Language Poetry

9/11: Add/drop period ends

II: 9/17 workshop

III: 9/24 Toomer: the line between poetry and prose

IV: 10/1 workshop

V: 10/8 Williams: the aesthetics of the ordinary, ekphrasis

VI: 10/15 workshop

VII: 10/22 Mullen: inventing new form

VIII: 10/29 conferences

10/30 last day to withdraw

IX: 11/5 workshop

X: 11/12 Carson: myth, allegory, and symbol

XI: 11/19 workshop

XII: 11/26 Eliot: allusion and fragment

XIII: 12/3 workshop

XIV: 12/10 Rexilius: the uses of indeterminacy

XV: 12/17 workshop

© 2014 Amy England, rights reserved