Groundbreaking Poets, Traditional Forms
Learn about sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, and other standards of the established canon as they are revitalized by a diverse range of the most celebrated poets working today. We’ll study Terrance Hayes’ villanelles about John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, Natasha Trethewey’s ghazals and pantoums about mixed-race identity, Sherman Alexie’s sestinas about Native American stereotypes, Patricia Smith’s sonnets about Hurricane Katrina, and other examples by recent Pulitzer Prize winners and US Poet Laureates who are reshaping history through their subversions of canonical forms.
The class will be split between critical discussion and creative writing workshop so that students can practice writing the same forms we will study. Assignments will include brief responses and more playful assignments on how to write in centuries-old, deeply contemporary forms.