Most of the course will be concerned with poetry and poetics from the modernist period up to the present; but we'll take a brisk look at a few earlier influential examples from Aristotle to Wordsworth. The principle concern will be the striking disjunction between the poetics and the poetry. The
Modernist poetics as articulated in the well-circulated statements of Pound, Stein, Eliot, Williams, Zukofsky, Olson are fascinating, but they make the most equivocal guides to the writing itself. Stein's lecture on Tender Buttons sheds only the feeblest, most anecdotal light on that recalcitrant text; Zukofsky's terse, stern essays on poetry are of surprisingly little help in reading the linguistic exuberance of Zukofsky's poetry; etc. We will read in both sides of these improbable equations. In all cases, since the bodies of work are complex, we will read exemplary excerpts rather huge swaths; the point will be to obtain an efficient grasp of the variety of the poetry.