In this class, we’ll read personal essays, mostly contemporary American, and poems from all over. The readings are structured to emphasize the contrasts among various structures. We’ll read some essays that are built along traditional lines (chronological, logical, etc.) and some that are segmented and less linear. You’ll write several short essays and one longer piece, drawing from your experience in idiosyncratic and unpredictable ways. You’ll also write very short responses to the readings that will form the core of a writer’s notebook, useful in generating more writing.
We’ll read some very contemporary and some very old poetry structured like lists, without the familiar organizing principles of rhyme and closed endings. We’ll also read and write poems in what are accurately called “obsessive forms”, poems that contain, magnify and alter their subjects. We’ll read, and write, prose poems and perhaps some forms of your own design.
The class is structured along familiar discussion/workshop designs. You’ll be responsible for presenting your work periodically, and for responding to the work of others in writing and in class.