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Poetry in Philadelphia

ENGL 016.401
MW 3-4:30

In this seminar, we'll look at some of the poets, poems and poetic movements that have sprung from this very lively city. In Penn's Rare Book Room, we'll look at evidence of the astonishing friendship among three great modernist poets: William Carlos Williams, H D (Hilda Doolittle) and Ezra Pound. We'll read and discuss poems by two of Philadelphia's best and most honored contemporary poets, Susan Stewart and Eleanor Wilner, as well as work by the large community of experimental poets at Penn. The University is home to a number of distinguished translators as well, and we'll read some of their work (in English) including Kathryn Hellerstein's translations from Yiddish. Since Philadelphia is the home of the country's largest poetry journal (The American Poetry Review) and of countless small magazines, we'll also look at the ways in which publishing shapes the city's literary life. Finally, we'll experience the rich performance culture on and off campus by attending readings at Writers House, the Painted Bride and other venues.

This seminar is open to anyone with an interest in poetry and urban culture. You do not need specific experience with poetry, only a interest in language and reading. You'll do a research project, response papers and reviews as well as some experimental, very user-friendly creative writing. If you have question (or suggestions!) please feel free to email

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