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Poetry and Poetics

ENGL 069.001
MW 2-3:30

Sound -- beats, vowels, color, rhyme and no rhyme, blank verse, iambic…


Form  -- line, stanza, sonnet, rap, verse and reverse, haiku, epic...


In this "deep introduction" to poetics, we'll start from the beginning and go

far into the historical and contemporary territory of poetic theory and form.

We'll take a top-down approach to theory, looking at what Plato, Aristotle,

Sidney and other established commentators have dictated.  We'll also look at statements about poetry by contemporary poets, some of them directly contradicting what the ancients decreed.  We’ll also learn the basics of meter and rhythm, and see how they shape the meaning of a poem.


As a complement to the top-down approach, we'll look carefully at a small number of poems, some traditional, some experimental. We’ll read Donne, Yeats, Marilyn Hacker, Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke, and others.  We’ll read “Jabberwocky” and Shakespeare, and some nursery rhymes that you’ve known all your life. The reading assignments will be short, but dense.  You’ll have the chance to read and re-read, with greater skill and pleasure each time.


Writing assignments will consist of short comments on the reading assignments, a midterm exam and a short final paper.


Please feel free to email me ( with questions.


This course fulfills Sector I (Theory and Poetics) for the English major.  It is also useful for creative writing concentrators, in any genre.

fulfills requirements