English 283: Beginning Verse Writing
This course will serve as an introductory writing “workshop.” Students will closely read and constructively critique each other’s work. The workshops are designed to offer possible pathways and methods for revision, as students will build toward creating a final portfolio of poems by the end of the term. Though the class will likely push you outside your comfort zone at times, workshop should always serve as a supportive community of fellow writers. You will receive ample feedback on your work from both peers and the instructor. Through practice, students will learn to be smarter readers, who notice not just the problems with a draft but also the possibilities it presents.
The course will also involve a substantial amount of reading (and discussion of that reading). The readings are designed to help you establish a relationship between your writing and literary tradition. You will be exposed to a wide variety of poetry, from classical to contemporary selections, in order to help you find out where your affinities lie and to help you draw on various models in your own work.
Much of the course will be organized around Gregory Orr’s “Four Poetic Temperaments”—story, structure, music and imagination. We will use these categories in order to build on existing strengths and improve weaknesses. Students should emerge from the course with a clearer sense of their own voice, the kinds of poems that interest them, and some ideas for how to move forward as poets.
Disclaimer: This class is not an easy A. The readings are difficult, the pace of the class is rigorous, and (as you will no doubt find out) writing poetry is hard!