Form & Theory of Poetry

This course will
consist of both reading and writing poetry. It will introduce students to
contemporary and traditional poetic forms, from sonnets to free verse, from
villanelles to prose poems, from elegies to documentary poems, hip-hop and spoken
word. We will explore how older forms have influenced newer forms, and how
different forms emerge from diverse cultural, historical, and political
contexts. We will also examine the relationship between written, oral, and
visual poetry.  Lastly, we will engage creatively by writing our own
original poetry inspired by course texts and discussion.

We will consider
issues of poetics, poetic form, and explore new ways of seeing and writing in
our own work. Students will be expected to write one poem a week that reflects
their understanding of the week’s featured poet(s) or of the poetic school
associated with their work; post weekly responses to the week’s readings to the
class blog; and give one presentation to the class on a poet from the course

Required Texts

  • The Making of a Poem, Mark Stand and Eavan Boland.
  • The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, Ilya Kaminsky and
    Susan Harris.
  • Course Reader
    including writers from several geo/cultural regions and poetic
    movements, for example,  Craig Santos
    Perez, Karlo Mila, Tusiata Avia, Brandy Nalani McDougall (Oceania); Natasha
    Tretheway, Gwendoyn Brooks, Kevin Young (African American); Allen Ginsberg,
    Anne Waldman, Gary Snyder (the Beats); and Imtiaz Dharker, Kazim Ali and others
    (South Asia and Middle East).


  • Participation
    on the blog and active participation in class discussions of readings and your
  • Participation
    in discussion, both in class and online;
  • One class
    presentation on a poet from the course list;
  • Final
    project:  a collection of original poems
    (15 pages or so) composed and revised during the semester.


To pass
the course, all work must be completed.

Prerequisite: ENG 313 or consent of instructor