If you had to, you
could live on the liquid diet they force-feed prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. It
contains calibrated levels of proteins and carbohydrates and calories, and it
prevents international incidents by keeping the Navy’s guests from joining the
choir invisible. But ingesting the stuff isn’t much fun.


You could also
keep your mind alive by feeding it nothing but prose. But why would you want
to? Poetry is a more efficient mode of communication than prose because it uses
all of language’s resources: not just the dictionary meanings of words but
their sounds and their emotional connections with everything else in the world.
In this course we’ll begin amassing some of that richness. And you’ll see: rich
is a lot more fun than poor.


Course requirements

Attendance and

Two exams, a
five-page paper, and a final

By way of
hands-on, you’ll also write a sonnet: a poem in a traditional verse form, with
rules to follow like the rules of a game. This will be graded pass-fail on
following the rules, with infinite rewrites allowed until you pass.


Required Text, at the University Bookstore

The Norton Anthology of Poetry