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

Michael Dumanis

This workshop-based creative writing 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. Thinking in language, 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 Lucie Brock-Broido, Jericho Brown, Jennifer Chang, Olena Kalytiak Davis, James Allen Hall, Shane McCrae, José Olivarez, Natalie Shapero, Evie Shockley, and Dean Young. At the end of term, students will write a critical introduction contextualizing their work and prepare a final portfolio of poems.

Learning Outcomes:
Through this course, students will:

1) learn a variety of techniques pertaining to poetry writing, with a focus on linguistic precision, diction, syntax, enjambment, lineation, metonymy, and vividness.
2) engage with a culturally and aesthetically diverse range of 20th century and contemporary poetry in English, with a focus on imitable rhetorical approaches
3) create a portfolio of original poems based on mimetic and other generative prompts
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: Permission of Instructor: by Monday, May 15, 2023. Please submit a writing sample of four poems and a brief statement of interest to via this form. Students will be notified of acceptance by email on Tuesday, May 16.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
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: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature
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