ENGL 283 A: Beginning Verse Writing

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 11:50am
THO 231
Professor Richard Kenney photo.
Richard Kenney

Syllabus Description:

Goals and Intentions


The journalist’s questions are famously known as “the five Ws and an H.” We’ll ask those of Poetry. We’ll discuss what Poetry is, what’s the point of it, and how to engage it at pencil-point. We’ll discuss and practice its elementary forms, writing to prompt, weekly. While your self-selected outside reading program may range anywhere, our in-class readings will concentrate in the literary canon, the sifted tradition of famous work.


So: If you want to write freely, follow your own Muse, and study the poetry that’s being written today, I wouldn’t blame you—but this isn’t your class. If you want a guided apprenticeship in the fundamental elements of the ars poetica, designed to equip you as a reader and writer of the poems of tomorrow, this might be a good choice.



Required Books


  1. A Little Blank Book. A Moleskine, or something like it, for jotting down daily observations. It should be small enough to carry with you through the day—ie, fit in a pocket or a purse or satchel.


  1.  The Rattle Bag, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, at the U. Bookstore


  1. Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize, ed. John Hollander [OK to use the slightly excerpted version for free at https://poets.org/lesson-plan/committed-memory. The print book is easily available online, in both new and used copies.


Catalog Description: 
Intensive study of the ways and means of making a poem.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
April 13, 2021 - 8:22am