Defining experimental poetry can be mystifying inasmuch as all writing can be considered experimenting with language. The notion of experimentation, however, has often been denied writers of African descent across the globe. Often relegated to the margins in discussions of innovative and avant garde poetics, Black women have throughout time lead the charge of excavating from language once-unknown possibilities that lean into care and transgression as needed for survival and expression. In this class, students will explore how the ideas of experimental, innovative, and radical have been applied by Black women poets who, in their work, subvert notions of womanhood as domestic and tame, and disrupt notions of Blackness as commonplace and unimaginative. We will poetry and critical works by essential Black women poets such as M. Nourbese Philip, Harryette Mullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Evie Shockley, Robin Coste Lewis, Duriel Harris, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Lillian Yvonne Bertram and others. Assignments may include weekly response papers, a midterm paper, and a final paper.
Co-requisites: Students are additionally required to attend all literature evenings and Poetry at Bennington events, held most Wednesdays at 7pm