This is a reading and workshop course for students serious
about learning to write poetry. We will not focus on poetry that is merely
“self-expression,” which is something anyone can write and for which no
learning (especially in a class) is necessary. Instead, we’ll look at the kind
of poetry that strives to understand what it means to become someone fully human
in heart, mind, body, and spirit; at poetry that strives to understand and
express how it’s possible to live in an ethical relationship with others in the
human and non-human world.
This doesn’t mean we’ll emphasize political, moralistic, or
other sorts of pre-fabricated poetry. Poems are too mysterious and wild for
that. Poems come from the body more than from the intellect, from emotions and
pleasure more than from reason and motives. But we will be at least as
interested in what poems “do” as in what they “say,” and in “how” they do it.
Grades will be based on how well students are able to
articulate their responses to the questions about poetics that are raised in
discussions and readings. For that, there will be weekly blog posts, and two
lengthier papers. Grades will also be based on the quality of the students’
efforts to engage helpfully with the original poems and ideas of their
Books, to be announced when the course begins.