ENGL 483 A: Advanced Verse Workshop

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 11:50am
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Bierds photo
Linda Bierds

Syllabus Description:

 Due to the necessity of online teaching this quarter, this syllabus is a work in progress.  I will adjust it as we go along.

Each of you should have received an eighteen-page Course Reader containing poems that we will discuss in anticipation of the writing prompts used for your original poems.  Please contact me by email if you need a copy.

English 483A—The Poetry Workshop, Spring Quarter, 2021

Prof. Linda Bierds                  lbierds@uw.edu

Padelford B403                      Phone:  543-9623

Office hours:  Online by appointment

Course description:

In this workshop, you will continue to develop your skills as a poet both by writing original poetry and by preparing written and oral critiques of the poetry of others.

You are asked to submit six original poems during the quarter, written critiques of your classmates’ poems, and a final manuscript. All written material, except the final manuscript, should be placed in the appropriate category under Discussions on Canvas.

I will send you by email a multi-page document containing poems that we will use for discussion to illustrate each poetry prompt.

Poems are due by midnight on the following dates:  Poem 1, 4/3; Poem 2, 4/11; Poem 3, 4/24; Poem 4, 5/8; Poem 5, 5/17; Poem 6, 5/30.

Written critiques are due by noon on the following dates:  Critique of Poem 2, 4/13; Critique of Poem 3, 4/26; Critique of Poem 4, 5/10; Critique of Poem 5, 5/19.

Your final manuscript is due by noon on Thursday, June 12. Please submit the final manuscript directly to me as an email attachment, not to the class email list.


Your grade will be determined by two sources:

Final manuscript (60% of your grade):  Your final manuscript will consist of the originals and final versions of the first five poems plus the original of Poem 6.

Class engagement (40% of your grade):  Your grade in this category will be determined by your written and oral critiques and by other forms of class participation, to be determined as we experience online teaching.

I’m happy to meet with you online throughout the quarter to discuss your poems and class performance.  At mid-quarter, we will suspend our class for one week so that I can meet with each of you to discuss your mid-quarter grade.

The Poetry Prompts

Note:  Because we have a large class, we won't be able to critique everyone's poem for every prompt.  (We will discuss everyone's "Anti-Syntax" poem and everyone's Cento--poems 1 and 6 respectively.)  I have divided the class into two groups, A and B.  Group A will have poems 2 and 4 discussed in class; Group B will have poems 3 and 5 discussed.

Group A:  Anderson, Brown, Dea, Fitzsimmons, Gordon, Guerrero, Hapgood, Johnson, Land

Group B:  Lusignan, Lynch, Mckeand, Pruss, Robinson, Ruiz, Tuttle, Untalan, White

During class, I will explain each prompt to you approximately one week before the poem is due. We will discuss the poems in your Course Reader that help illustrate the prompt.

Prompt One: “Anti-Syntax”
This prompt asks you to create a poem using only concrete nouns and rhythm, or, as in Mullen’s poem, adjectives and rhythm.
See “Silent Poem” p. 1 and “Mantra for a Classless Society” p. 2

Prompt Two: “Stripped Down Language”
This prompt asks you to write with a relaxed tonal register.  You should use a relatively simple vocabulary and syntactical structure.
Topic:  Concepts of home. Form:  Monostrophe.
See on pages 3 & 4: “Bad Boats”, “Michiko Dead”, “Anniversary”, “Home to Roost”;
and on pages 5-7: “A Room in the Past”, “El Florida Room”, “House”

Prompt Three: “Writing from Another Dictionary”
Note:  I am grateful to former graduate students Aya Gold and Patrick Runyan for giving me permission to use this prompt, which is explained on pages 8 & 9.
For Approach One, see on page 8: “Lullaby” and “Gone by Then”
For Approach Two, see on page 9: “House”, “#25”, “The Last Son of China”, “Dictee”, “[…]”

Prompt Four:  The Section Poem
Write a poem in no more than six sections, with no more than six lines per section.  Please use some type of ornament to designate your section breaks.  This prompt emphasizes the importance of the image and stresses economy.  All sample poems for this prompt will be sent to you as email attachments.
See: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, “Skunk”, “A Boy Like Your Mother”

Prompt Five: Prophecy Poem
Note:  I’m grateful to graduate student Rachel Hill for giving me permission to use this prompt, which is explained on page 12.
See on pages 12-15: “Art and Craft”, “Pop Music”, “Returning to Pompeii”, “Look Again”, “Lines for Winter”

Prompt Six:  The Cento
The cento is an old form in which the poet uses only lines from other writers to create an original poem.  For this prompt, you will select lines from your classmates’ poems this quarter to create an original work.
See on pages 16 & 17: “Wolf Cento”, “Cento for Sydney”     


Catalog Description: 
Intensive verse workshop. Emphasis on the production and discussion of student poetry. Prerequisite: ENGL 383; ENGL 384.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 14, 2021 - 5:40am