ENG 311: Poetry Writing

Course Objectives

I hope that you are taking this course because you think it will be incredibly fun. It will be. I also hope that you realize this does not mean it will be an easy course. Learning to write poetry well requires practice, hard work, and intense concentration. In this regard, writing poetry is like learning to play an instrument, becoming excellent at a sport, apprenticing to a trade, or growing a garden: it requires intense, focused work with a community of practitioners. The moment of insight—where the right words fit together to express something profound and beautiful, something you hadn’t even been trying to say—comes only after long hours of fruitless effort. But don’t worry, it’s worth it.

This course, then, is first of all about honing your abilities as a poet. To do this, you will learn to carefully read great contemporary poets, including your fellow classmates. As we read other poets, you’ll learn the landscape of the contemporary poetry scene. You’ll discover who is writing what and how to get published. In the process, you will better understand why poetry has been a vital part of culture in the past and why it still matters today.

Assignments

Texts

  • The Poem’s Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody, by Alfred Corn. ISBN: 978-1556592812
  • Second Sky, by Tania Runyan. ISBN: 978-1625642882
  • The Gone and the Going Away, by Maurice Manning. ISBN: 978-0547939957
  • Olives, by A. E. Stallings. ISBN: 978-0810152267
  • Pity the Beautiful, by Dana Gioia. ISBN: 978-1555976132

Course Calendar

Course meets MWF 12:20-1:20 in SDH 212. This schedule is subject to change.

Week 1

  • Friday 9/9: Introduction

Week 2

  • Monday 9/12: Runyan 1-25; Corn introduction
  • Wednesday 9/14: Runyan 26-50
  • Friday 9/16: Runyan 51-70; Corn chapter 1

Week 3

  • Monday 9/19: Runyan all; two poems
  • Wednesday 9/21 (AG): Workshop 1; Corn chapter 2
  • Friday 9/23: Workshop 1; Reading Report 1

Week 4

  • Monday 9/26: Stallings part 1; two poems
  • Wednesday 9/28: Stallings parts 2 and 3; Corn chapter 3 (Arbor games)
  • Friday 9/30: Stallings part 4; Reading Report 2

Week 5

  • Monday 10/3: Stallings all; two poems
  • Wednesday 10/5: Workshop 1; Corn chapter 4
  • Friday 10/7: Workshop 1; Reading Report 3

Week 6

  • Monday 10/10: Visit from Tania Runyan; two poems
  • Wednesday 10/12: Workshop 1; Corn chapter 5
  • Friday 10/14: Workshop 1; Reading Report 4

Week 7

  • Monday 10/17: Manning; two poems
  • Wednesday 10/19: Manning; Corn chapter 6
  • Friday 10/21: No class, fall break

Week 8

  • Monday 10/24: First Portfolio due; publication discussion
  • Wednesday 10/26: Manning; Corn chapter 7
  • Friday 10/28: Manning all; Reading Report 5

Week 9

  • Monday 10/31: Workshop 2; two poems
  • Wednesday 11/2: Workshop 2; Corn chapter 8
  • Friday 11/4:  Workshop 2; Reading Report 6

Week 10

  • Monday 11/7:  Workshop 2; two poems
  • Wednesday 11/9: Workshop 2; Corn chapter 9
  • Friday 11/11: Gioia; Reading Report 7

Week 11

  • Monday 11/14: Gioia; two poems
  • Wednesday 11/16: Gioia; Corn chapter 10 (Jeff gone to ETS)
  • Friday 11/18: Gioia all; Reading Report 8

Week 12

  • Monday 11/21: Workshop 3; two poems
  • Wednesday 11/23: no class – Thanksgiving break
  • Friday 11/25: no class – Thanksgiving break

Week 13

  • Monday 11/28: Workshop 3; two poems
  • Wednesday 11/30: Workshop 3
  • Friday 12/2:  Workshop 3; Reading Report 9

Week 14

  • Monday 12/5: Market Assignment; two poems
  • Wednesday 12/7: Workshop 3
  • Friday 12/9: Workshop for Final Portfolio; Reading Report 10

Week 15