St. Poetry: Community-Engaged Poetry & Poetics

This course will focus on poetry
that engages different kinds of political, social, cultural, environmental, and
activist “communities.” We will ask: what is the role of poetry in
society? What are the themes, metaphors, and forms that structure a poetics of
witness, advocacy, and empathy? What is the relationship between aesthetics and


We will also focus on poets
who are involved in bringing poetry into various community and public spaces.
We will explore open mics, slams, reading groups, youth workshops, prison
workshops, political rallies, labor union workshops, the Occupy movement, public
hearings, poetry potlucks, Native American reservations, radio, television,
Public Service Announcements, poetry flash mobs, guerrilla poetry, and street
poetry, among others. Furthermore, we will explore how social media (Twitter,
Facebook, Blogging, YouTube) is extending the reach of poetry into new virtual
communities. Throughout, we will discuss how poets can contribute to social and
political movements in the 21st century.


Required Texts (Subject to Change):


Kaia Sand Remember To Wave

Mark Nowak Coal Mountain Elementary

June Jordan, Poetry for the People

Carolyn Forche, Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry
of Witness


Blueprints: Bringing Poetry into Communities (Free e-book)


Other readings will be provided
via a free course reader.


Assignments (Subject to Change):

  1. One-page written responses to assigned reading
  2. Host a poetry party/potluck with your friends/family
  3. Attend at least two poetry readings on-campus and
  4. Plan and complete a guerrilla poetry action/event
  5. Plan and complete a community poetry
  6. Share poetry using social media
  7. Midterm Exam
  8. Final Essay