This course will provide a grounding in 20th century American poetry. Beginning with two great 19th century innovators,
Dickinson and Whitman, we will examine the tensions between strict, traditional forms and newer, freer ones; between accepted poetic aesthetics and the search for "what will suffice," (Wallace Stevens), and discover what meets modern needs in modern circumstances. We will read a broad range of poets, up to and including our contemporaries. No previous experience with poetry is necessary; one purpose of this course is to overcome students' "poetry anxiety" by furnishing them with the tools of the poetry reader's trade, enabling them to read poetry on their on their own with confidence as well as enjoyment.