Summer 2003
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 648
Written Words, Spoken Words: The Art of Writing and Performing Poetry

Trentham,Edwina A.

06/23/2003 - 08/05/2003
Monday & Wednesday 05:30 PM - 08:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 136

As a literary genre, poetry is first and essentially an oral art form. From the Greek epics-composed as oral poetry and tansmitted from generation to generation through song, to Robert Frost's famous recitation of "The Gift Outright" at Kennedy's presidential inauguration, to a group of vibrant contemporary poets energetically sharting their work in Russell Simon's Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, the aesthetic force of poetry is most fully expressed in performance. Only when poetry is spoken alout can we fully appreciate the power and beauty of its message, the complex ways in which sounds and images work together to create meaning. Students in this course will focus on the work of four poets who will perform their poems at the Summer 2003 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut, studying collections of poetry by Maxine Kumin, Jack Agueros, Margaret Gibson, and Tim Seibles. The class will also attend the readings by Agueros (June 25) Gibson (July 9), and Seibles (July 23). Attending these performances, students will explore ways of writing poetry thta is as vibrant when spoken as it is on the page, and also, through example, learn the skill of performing poetry successfully for a large audience. As part of their study of the four poet's work, each student will present an oral report on one of the poets, write six poems of their own in response to the work they read and hear, and give a group reading at The Buttonwood Tree (a community based, non-profit art organization serving Central Connecticut with music and poetry performances, and a bookstore) in Middletown. Class will be held at The Makeshift Theater at Hill-Stead Museum three times during the term, prior to readings. Students who sign up for the course in time are encouraged to attend the reading on June 11, 2003, by the first selected poet, Maxine Kumin. We will also view the video of her reading during class-time, so that we can discuss how successfully each of the selected poets translates her or his work from the page into performance. Additionally, students will have the option of attending the performance poet Kurtis Lamkin's concernt at Wesleyan's Crowell concert hall Thursday, July 3, at 8 p.m. Lamkin, who speaks his poems while playing the 21-string West African kora (a lute/harp-like gourd-instrument), will visit the class on Wednesday, July 2. At the end of the tirm, we will produce a book of student's work, and students will read from this collection at the Buttonwood Tree public reading.

Additional costs for this course include: parking at The Sunken Garden Festival ($5.00 per car), admission to the readings is free for students with an ID, but otheriwse $5.00, and although dinner is available for approximately $10.00, many people bring their own meals for a picnic on the lawn. For information on the 2003 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, visit: For information on The Buttonwood Tree, visit:

Students are encouraged to attend a reading at the Hillstead Museum on July 11, 2003.

Edwina Trentham (B.A., Wesleyan University; M.F.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is editor of the poetry magazine Freshwater and her book, Stumbling into the Light, was recently published by Antrim House. She was awarded honorable mention in the 2004 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival Competition, and she will be a featured reader there on June 23, 2005. Her poems have been published in many anthologies and literary journals, including The Massachusetts Review, Kalliope, Prairie Schooner, The American Voice, and The American Scholar.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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