ENGL-184 Contemporary Poems
Spring for 2013-2014
We’re going to read some wonderful poems; we’ll pick them apart, learn what we can about how they’re made—not just the form, songlines, voice, but also the echoes, the poems and speech behind them. At the same time, we’ll read the things that poets say and think about their own poems, and about poetry (“poetics”). And then we’ll test the poems against the claims, and decide for ourselves what works in poems.
So we’re operating practically, and building things as we go. I don’t assume that you have an extensive background in literary or poetry history, or theory; it may be that you like some particular poems, but that you find the rest of poetry befuddling, and that the whole high-school era search for deep meaning is, as we said in my high school, a “downer” and an excuse for obscure and pretentious commentary. I do ask, however, that you be willing to spend serious time with poems, and with the sometimes murky and yes, pretentious commentary that poets provide. The course can be of help to people who want to study poetry and figurative values, and also to those who want to write poems & songs.
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