Reading and Writing Poetry: Word Choice and Linebreak (LIT4292.01)

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 Jericho Brown, Cynthia Cruz, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Timothy Donnelly, Tarfia Faizullah, Cathy Park Hong, Shane McCrae, and Dean Young. Students will read a book or its equivalent and write two poems in the same style each week, preparing a final portfolio of poems at the end of the course.

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Hybrid in-person and remote, with faculty in-person
Prerequisites:Interested students should email a poetry sample of 3 to 5 pages and a short statement of interest in this course to by May 26, 2020.
Corequisites: Students are expected to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events (most Wednesdays at 7pm).
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W/F 8:30AM-12:10PM (1st seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

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