Section Information for Spring 2017
Why is a poem a poem? What is a poem in the 21st century? Can we/should we define poem or poetry by form? By sound? By subject matter? By the sense of a speaker behind the words? Or perhaps solely by the writer’s intent? How do traditional forms stay alive in our tech-obsessed, globalized times? How do radical forms and methods descend from and build upon the long traditions of poetry in English? Where might we draw a line between poetry and other artistic practices, such as visual art or memoir? To explore these questions—and others, as our curiosity leads us—we will read approximately twelve collections of American poetry published in this century--mostly full-length books, plus two or three chapbooks. We will direct our attention to reading poems closely as well as understanding the voice of each poet in the context of both contemporary society and current modes of poetic thought. To that end, our reading list will be diverse in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, subject matter, aesthetic inclination, and concept of what poetry or a book might be. One or two of our poets will visit campus during the semester, giving you a chance to interact, ask questions, and hear the poet’s voice live. In February, you will also have a chance to hear many more contemporary poets read from their work at various venues in D.C. during the annual conference of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). Time allowing, we will also visit Fenwick Library’s collection of handmade and limited edition books made by and for poets, with more opportunities to handle artist’s books and poem-objects in class. For reading list, email the instructor in January.