1. Each student will write one new poem (not a
revision) each week of his or her own choosing; additionally, students will
occasionally be asked to submit an assigned imaginative exercise.
2. Before the last class of the semester, students will
submit a portfolio of six reasonably finished poems (multiple drafts).
Revisions in process will be discussed in conference during the semester. At
mid-semester, students will hand in revisions in process of at least three
poems for critical comments.
3. Poems will be due Monday before noon in the
English secretary’s office.E-mail me a copy by noon as well.Poems will be collated and stapled for our workshop
and you may pick up these poems late Monday afternoons in front of the English
Seminar room in Miller Library.
NO LATE POEMS WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE PACKETS.
4. We will discuss work of published writers for the first
forty-five minutes of class. Take notes on the poets: your likes, dislikes,
discoveries, questions, craft issues you don't understand. READ THIS WORK
CAREFULLY BEFORE COMING TO CLASS. Don't embarrass yourself by not being
prepared. You'll learn as much from your reading as you will from your writing.
5. I have
made a list of fifty collections of contemporary (mostly American), poetry I
believe essential for serious students of poetry. Students should read at least
two books of poetry a week. Every two weeks, for the first eight weeks, four
times during the semester, I'll ask students to write a review (three or four
page long) of a collection which helps them as writers. These reviews are due
in class. If you're working with a
New and Selected Poems, choose one volume of work inside it (you might want to
check with me about what's considered the strongest work). I include a portion
of a model review, one that makes some generalizations about the work, and
gives examples to support assertions about it. In all cases reviews should be
considered from the point of view of a writer (meaning evaluative
and craft-centered, not an analytic (thematic) reader of literature.
6. Advanced poetry writing has two essential
functions: to learn revision and to create a structure for writing poems after
undergraduate workshops, which means working independently, establishing a
community of writers and a regular, ritualized process of writing. To this end,
after the first week of class, every Friday before 5 p.m., students will e-mail
copies of drafts of their poems to another student (on a rotating basis) in the
class. By Sunday at 6 p.m. students will return by e-mail comments on those
poems to the author, so the writer has the opportunity to revise the work
before submitting to the workshop. These readers will initiate discussion of poems
in class. E.G. Student A mails poem to student B on Friday (the next week
student C); student B returns comments by Sunday at 6 p.m. Student A revises
and submits poem Monday before noon for workshop on Wednesday.
think of conferences as ways to stretch, to get feedback on a body of work, to
get started when you're stuck, to answer a particular craft problem, to find
people to read, to clarify concepts or vocabulary. Conferences are not mandatory: I expect people who love
poetry to take responsibility and figure out how I can be helpful to their
work. But if you're having trouble writing, you might find conferences
Attendance: workshops are run for a community of writers. You
will be allowed ONE unexcused absence (the equivalent of three classes); after
that you'll be penalized for missing class. Remember, others in the class are
as interested in your opinions of their work as you are in theirs. Take other
Class participation: Speak up.
To be a member of a community is to participate in its rituals. Class discussions are not geared to
choose the best writer in the class: they're geared to help each writer write
the best poem he or she can write. Class participation counts as part of your
Make sure you read and write on the poems carefully in ADVANCE of class. Take
notes on the strengths and problems, checking passages of interest, and bring
them to class.
bring your worksheets to class: we will refer to them often.
For the first few weeks I’ll collect student
comments to ascertain critical and editorial skills. After the first two weeks,
students hand their comments on other student poems to the authors of the poems
Don't fall behind: Don't hand in first drafts. If you're having difficulty writing,
bring in drafts to conference and show me where you're stuck. If you can't get
started, come to conference to trigger work. Reading contemporary poets also
helps. Try and create a writing ritual for yourself, some times during the week
where you have quiet and can be attentive. REMEMBER: creative writing is a process, learning is
cumulative: if you write several poems in a week, expect them to suffer from
the same problems. You'll be permitted to fall behind one week. After that
you'll be hurting your work and your grade.
poetry writing is not a competitive
sport. Our job is to help each writer become the best writer he or she can be.
Since writing is process, I'm interested in how each writer develops over the
semester. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone should be taken
seriously, which means everyone should take him/herself seriously.