Reading and Writing Poetry: Word Choice and Linebreak (LIT4276.01)

Michael Dumanis

This workshop-based poetry course starts with the premise that every time we put a word down on a page or break a line at a particular point, we are making a choice of genuine consequence. The process of writing a poem is ultimately a sequence of these seemingly small choices and the particular arrangement of words and lines in our poems is more responsible for how the poems communicate than their ostensible subject matter or driving ideas. We will turn in a new poem each week based on stylistic prompts triggered by our reading, and, as a group, will carefully consider the results of individual decisions made in our poems while experimenting with other possibilities and arrangements. We will also examine the singular aesthetic choices of multiple distinctive 20th and 21st century poets. Poets studied could include Daniel Borzutzky, Lucie Brock-Broido, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Terrance Hayes, Shane McCrae, Evie Shockley, Richard Siken, Mark Strand, Jane Wong, and Dean Young. Students will write weekly critical response papers, and will prepare a final portfolio of poems at the end of the term.

Corequisites: Students who are enrolled in this course are required to attend Literature Evenings and Poetry @ Bennington events (most Wednesdays, 7pm).

Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor: by Thursday, May 10 please submit a writing sample of four poems to Michael Dumanis at A course roster will be posted on Monday, May 14 on the Literature bulletin board on the second floor of the Barn.
Credits: 4
W 10:00am - 11:50am; W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as 4000, All courses, Four Credit, Literature, Michael Dumanis, Wednesday Afternoons, Wednesday Mornings.