This focus of this course is the craft of writing and
performing poetry, so this is a writing intensive course that places an
additional emphasis on presentation. The first half of the semester will be
primarily devoted to writing poems with the expectation of revising and
polishing them for  performance, which
will be the focus of the second half of the semester. We will be doing in class
writing and performing exercises, and workshops. We will also read and watch
poetry to help us get a better grasp of concepts and craft through example. We
will also be looking at works that speak from “margins” of their societies.
Hopefully, these works will also serve as inspiration for your own writing. In
addition, we will be reading some criticism, because sometimes the best way to
begin unpacking a poem/performance is to find out what other people are saying
about it. In this class, we will be paying close attention to our relationships
with audience, and what types of expectations reside in those kinds alliances.
Required texts will be available through Revolution Books and via Laulima as


Required texts
(available at Revolution Books):

  • The Teachers and Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms –
    Ron Padgett
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the
    Rainbow is Enuff – Ntozake Shange
  • Migritude – Shailja Patel
  • Afakasi Speaks – Grace Taylor
  • Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other
    Identities = Anna Deavere Smith


Also required: 

  •  a notebook for free writes and taking notes.



  •  Blog responses: 
    For each reading assignment, an online response will be due on our blog
    by 6pm the night before class, unless otherwise noted.
  • Attendance and participation:  This is is crucial for classtime
    (particularly workshop days) and blog postings. You are required to offer
    comments on at least two blog postings a week.
  • Final “Chapbooks”/Presentations, which will be divided
    into three sections:
  1. A collection of revised and polished poetry (8 to 10
    poems) with a brief statement of poetics (1 page) accompanying each poem or a
    long statement of poetics that is at least 6 pages long;
  2. A performance manifesto (2 to 4 pages) that explores
    your thoughts and edicts on performance;
  3. A final performance presentation, where you will
    choose two to three of your poems and perform them for an audience.