Reading and Writing Poetry: Image and Detail (LIT4536.01)

Michael Dumanis

This poetry workshop focuses on the ways writers deploy language to achieve precision, vividness, sensory richness, singularity, and emotional resonance. We will begin by developing an understanding of the difference between a detail and a visual image, and the distance between the abstract concept of a thing and the sense of the concrete thing itself. We will go on to explore how narrating an experience is different from enacting it on the page, and what we can do to get our readers to successfully enter and inhabit the worlds we create in our poems. We will experiment with adding color and texture to our drafts, as well as with making individual gestures and actions feel cinematic in the ways we render them. Considerable attention will also be devoted to the ways metaphor and metonymy function in poems. We will turn in a new poem each week and our discussions will be augmented by reading the work of Rick Barot, Elizabeth Bishop, Jericho Brown, Cynthia Cruz, Mark Doty, Ross Gay, Jorie Graham, H.D., Mark Levine, Robin Coste Lewis, Paisley Rekdal, Robyn Schiff, Safiya Sinclair, Wallace Stevens, and James Wright. Students will introduce and assemble a final portfolio of poems at the end of the course.


Learning Outcomes:
Through this course, students will:

1) learn a variety of techniques pertaining to poetry writing, with a focus on imagery, description, metaphor, metonymy, precise wording, and concrete detail.
2) engage with a culturally and aesthetically diverse range of 20th century and contemporary poetry in English
3) create a portfolio of original poems
4) collaboratively peer-critique one another's poems, while expanding a critical vocabulary and experimenting with a variety of approaches to providing feedback on literary work



Delivery Method: Fully 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 mdumanis@bennington.edu by May 6, 2021. All students may apply for multiple 4000-level Reading and Writing Courses in the same term, but, once accepted, may only enroll in one 4000-level Reading and Writing course per term.
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 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Literature , Fully In-Person
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