Course Detail

ID 2123
Course ID EES87QPW
Course Name Poetry eng7
Years Active 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
Terms Active 1
On Course Selection Form Yes
Course Placement No
Special Permission Course No
Credits Awarded 1.0
Retakeable No
Rules Fulfilling
Eligibility Rule

Additional Course Information

Additional Information for Course Exceptions Required? No

This course incorporates the study of poetry with the writing of poetry. We’ll begin with some contemporary writers, explore rhythm, rhyme, and the complex forms, particularly those from Asia and the Middle East, take two weeks to experiment with risks and new approaches, jump back in time to study several of America’s most celebrated voices, and close with a unit on spoken word. Along the way we’ll study poets ranging from Walt Whitman to Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Emily Dickinson to Jason Koo. We’ll also look closely at two full books by John Yau and Claudia Rankine as we imagine what our own final collections might look like. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll be focusing on your writing and the writing of your classmates past and present. As my former student Disi Chen once wrote, “This is not only a class where you write to express but also listen to learn. You’ll be surprised when you hear the poetry of others and realize that everyone has so much to say in so many different styles, you included.”

Course Structure:

Most Wednesdays will be devoted to workshops, and most Fridays will involve readings or recitations. Seven times during the course of the semester, I will comment on individual poems, and at the end of the term you will have an opportunity to collect and present your ten best poems in a chapbook. Three times during the course of the semester, you’ll memorize and recite a poem of your choice that is over twelve lines.  

Essential Questions:

  • What does poetry-oriented freewriting look and feel like?
  • How do rhythm, rhyme, form, and other structural elements contribute to the experience of writing and interpreting poetry?
  • How do contemporary writers use and reinvent historical poetic forms such as the sonnet?
  • How have American poets incorporated poetic forms from Malaysia, Japan, the Middle East, and other non-Western poetic traditions?
  • When and how do poets break rules and challenge what a poem can be?
  • What does poetic risk-taking feel like? 
  • What factors do professional poets consider as they create their books?
  • What role do books and chapbooks play in the poetry community?
  • What pivotal poets and movements shaped the history of American poetry?
  • What role do New York’s poets and poetic schools play in American literature?
  • What does spoken word poetry look and feel like?
  • What tensions exist between “page” and “stage” poetry and how might each genre infuse our own style?
  • What is your poetic process and what does your individual poetic voice sound like?


Recent poets studied include Rajiv Mohabir, Jason Koo, Frances Chung, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Mohja Kahf, Agha Shahid Ali, Fatimah Asghar, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jericho Brown, Ishle Yi Park, Nellie Wong, John Yau, Claudia Rankine, Tracy K. Smith, Matthew Zapruder, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kevin Young, Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Danez Smith, Rachel Rostad, a million Button Poetry performance poet  videos you’ll love, and the work of past and present Poetry Workshop students.


Individual Poems and Assignments (several of which will include reflections): 40%

Chapbook: 10%

Recitations: 20%

Class Participation: 15%

Workshop Preparedness: 15%

Syllabus There is no syllabus listed