Reading and Writing Poetry: Refusals and Mythic Transformations (LIT4532.01)

Jenny Boully

What happens when a poem no longer behaves, when an orderly book of verse begins to display signs of the disorderly? In this course, we will examine poetry books that begin well behaved only to enter into the realm of rebellion. The poet seems to have derailed from their tidiness, their perfected planned lines. The outcome is often explosive, both formally and linguistically, resulting in mythic worlds or imaginative language-scapes that overtake the boundaries—temporal, formal, and existential—of the previously conceived world. Students will be asked to think about their own poetic writing life, how it stays within its own confines or demarcations, what arises when one allows control to go awry and follow it to its conclusion, no matter how unsettling or unsure. Readings may include Carmen Gimenez Smith’s Be Recorder, W.H. Auden’s “Journal of an Airman,” Jack Spicer’s After Lorca, Richard Siken’s Crush, Lee Ann Roripaugh’s Dandarians, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, and Maggie Nelson’s Jane: A Murder. By recognizing and then refusing one’s own rules and allowing one’s poetic exploration to expand into lingering and trespassing spaces, students will write poetry that aims to chart a new and mythic territory of their own devising.

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Hybrid in-person and remote, with faculty in-person
Prerequisites:Permission of instructor. Students should submit a writing sample to by Thursday, November 12. Students will be notified of acceptance into the class on Tuesday, November 17. 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: Please note that students enrolled in this course are required to attend Poetry at Bennington and Literature Evening events on Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM. 
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M 8:30AM - 12:10PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Hybrid In-Person and Remote , Literature