Reading and Writing Poetry: Games and Experiments (LIT4387.01)

Franny Choi

As poets, we’re often conducting little experiments on the page: What happens if I break the line here? Can I make this a sestina? How many rhymes is too many rhymes? In this advanced poetry workshop, we will dig into the experimental impulse and explore rigorous play as a method for expanding our artistic capabilities. We will use games, missions, kinetic activities, and hybrid approaches to turn our class into a poetry lab, asking, “What did we learn from this experiment?” (instead of “How can this poem be less bad”). Reading works by poets like Douglas Kearney, Bhanu Kapil, and Kenneth Goldsmith, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Lyn Hejinian, we will discuss the ways race, gender, and power affect interpretations of the risks poets take in their work, asking: What do we mean when we call a poem “experimental?” Who is the “avant-garde” anyway? What are the boundaries of what is considered to be poetry, and what possibilities for writing might we discover by pushing against those boundaries? Students will be asked to read closely, write regularly (both in class and on your own), take risks, make mistakes, work collaboratively, think critically about their own creative process, strive to understand each other’s visions, and support each other’s growth through thoughtful, constructive, imaginative feedback.

Learning Outcomes:
- Become familiar with a wide range of poetic works that may be categorized as experimental, becoming sharper readers of the various approaches and techniques available to the poet.
- Use new tools and techniques, including those that push the boundaries of genre and form.
- Build a regular practice of writing, reading, and discussing poetry, including building up tolerance for failed experiments and unsatisfying drafts.
- Practice developing and articulating your own creative vision; practice supporting and respecting the creative visions of others.
- Grow your craft through the process of reflection, revision, and reimagination.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Students should submit up to 2 pages of creative writing, along with responses to the following questions: 1) Why do you want to take this class? 2) In what ways do you want to grow as a writer? 3) What is one idea you have for a fun writing game or activity? Interested students should submit this form by November 24. Students will be notified of acceptance into this class by November 29, 2023.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 2:10PM - 5:50PM (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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