Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Contemporary Poetry: 1975 to the Present

ENGL 262.401


This small seminar will follow the same form and structure as English 288 and English 62 , but will focus on poetry after 1975, mostly from the U.S., but also including some poetry from Canada, the UK, and Europe. This will not be a period or survey course: the seminar will focus on poetry that pushes the envelope on formal and conceptual invention. The syllabus should be available in early summer. Think: digital, (para- and post-) conceptual, site-specific, post-NY School, language, sprung lyric, flarf, eco-, and performance poetries as well as book art and possibly related work in film, theater, and the visual arts. In addition, there will be a few poets visiting the class -- reading and discussing their work with the seminar. 

The "reading workshop" is less concerned with analysis or explanation of individual poems than with finding ways to intensify the experience of poetry, of the poetic, through a consideration of how the different styles and structures and forms of contemporary poetry can affect the way we see and understand the world. No previous experience with poetry is necessary. More important is a willingness to consider the implausible, to try out alternative ways of thinking, to listen to the way language sounds before trying to figure out what it means, to lose yourself in a flurry of syllables and regain your bearings in dimensions otherwise imagined as out-of-reach.

The basic requirement for the class is a weekly response to the assigned readings - usually a notebook entry, imitation, or experiment. These responses are open-ended and can be in whatever form you choose - they are meant to encourage interaction with the poems and also serve as a record of your reading. The experiments are based on list of exercises (something like laboratory work) aimed at getting inside the styles of the various poets studied. The responses and experiments will form the basis of workshop discussions.

By permit only. Send an email expressing your interest in the class to Charles.Bernstein@English.Upenn.Edu


fulfills requirements