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Writing and Borders

ENGL 127.301
instructor(s):
T 1:45-4:45pm

This workshop is about experiments in writing that exceeds the limits of form: when the drive to put down experience in poems spills out into prose, or when the borders provided for the experience seem to hold for the moment, only to collapse the moment after. This particular writing drive seeks to occupy space, not in the real sense, but in the abstract—where the insider goes out, and the outsider hides in. This ever-acting dichotomy in writing poems is often brought out in times of personal crisis, but most distinctly in times of conflict and war (and where the lines and borders on the ground need to be drawn clearly, the disillusionment with the human self provides a most fertile ground for breaking out of the poem, for seeking the poetic outside defined lines). We will explore the possibilities of these statements in our own experimentations in achieving form in a poem, and then breaking out of it in prose. We will be guided in this process by some of the following texts: 1. modern rewritings of The Iliad, such as War Music by Chris Logue and Memorial by Alice Oswald; 2. autobiographies such as The Invention of Solitude by Paul Auster and The Words by Jean-Paul Sartre; and 3. the poems and prose of poets such as W.B. Yeats, Zbigniew Herbert, Paul Celan, and Mahmoud Darwish.