Reading and Writing Poetry: The Speculative Lyric (LIT4509.01)

Franny Choi

It’s easy to think of poetry as a primarily descriptive art; that is, we poets are often tasked with paying deep attention to the world and describing what we witness. But what happens when we shift our attention to worlds that don’t yet exist? How can we move past the descriptive impulse and begin to view our poems as laboratories for invention and imagination? In this poetry workshop, we will draw upon elements of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism to understand how stoking a speculative impulse might help open up new directions for our poems. In addition to works that might be categorized more strictly as “sci-fi poetry,” we will read and write poems that wonder, lie, wish, cast spells, and converse with imagined others. With guidance from thinkers like Ursula K. LeGuin and José Esteban Muñoz, we will also consider how engaging an imaginative lyric might help us think through and beyond the confinements of racism, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism. Course readings will have a focus on contemporary poets (including Brenda Shaughnessy, Eve L. Ewing, Alberto Ríos, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Martín Espada, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, and Bhanu Kapil) but also include short fiction, critical essays, and films. This class will be exploratory in nature and generative in structure, meaning you should expect to participate in writing experiments in class, in addition to working independently. Students will be expected to give and receive feedback, revise work, and create a final chapbook of poems.

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Students will be selected based on a 4-poem manuscript and a statement of interest in the course, submitted via this form by May 5, 2022. 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 required to attend all Literature Evenings, Bennington Translates, and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Literature
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