Spring 2005

HUMS 646
Poetry Writing Workshop: Experiments in Autobiography


01/24/2005 - 05/07/2005
Wednesday 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Fisk Hall 115

For centuries, readers and writers of lyric poetry have considered it a somehow privileged medium for "personal" expression. But sometimes when we set out to write "from our lives," whatever that might mean, we find ourselves caught up in various ruts associated with autobiographical writing. In this course we will look at works by many recent and contemporary (mostly American) poets, such as John Berryman, Andre Breton, Alice Notley, Anne Carson, Lyn Hejinian, Lucille Clifton, Robert Creeley, Lorine Niedecker, Eileen Myles, and Larry Levis, who expand and transform the possibilities and uses of the "personal" in poetry. Using their experiments as inspirations, students will then push the boundaries of their own writing as they explore the complexity of relations between the self and its other(s), along with its historical, biological, and linguistic contingencies.

We will start out writing short poems and move into trying our hand at longer sequences. A portfolio of poems will be due at the end of class. Grades will be based on preparation of the reading, written work, and general degree of investment in your poetic journey and that of your peers.

Some prior experience with poetry writing is strongly recommended but not required.

Maggie Nelson (B.A. Wesleyan University; Ph.D. City University of New York) is visiting assistant professor of English. She is author of 3 books of poetry: Shiner (2001), The Latest Winter (2003), and Jane: A Murder (2005).


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Joe Brainard, I REMEMBER (Granary Books), Paperback

Andre Breton, NADJA (Grove Press), Paperback

Lucille Clifton, GOOD WOMAN: POEMS AND MEMOIR (BOA Editions), Paperback

Larry Levis, THE SELECTED LEVIS (University of Pittsburgh Press), Paperback

Bernadette Mayer, MIDWINTER DAY (New Directions), Paperback

Alice Notley, MYSTERIES OF SMALL HOUSES (Penguin Poets), Paperback

Claudia Rankine, DON'T LET ME BE LONELY (Graywolf Press), Paperback


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