Twentieth Century American Poetry and Poetics

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For the remaining ten weeks of the semester we will be reading poems, and some prose, by American poets written between 1900–1960.

First, you have some exploration to do in preparation for our study of these poets. I would like each of you to select a poet and learn what you can about her/his work and then select a few representative and/or exemplary poems for the class to read. I have put up a new page under Projects called Twentieth Century American Poetry that explains exactly what you need to do.

Second, when I receive the poets you have selected, and your lists of poems, we will complete the timeline schedule, and build in links to the poems, whether in web or in print. Once we will build the schedule we will begin reading the poems and studying the life and work of the chosen poets. When we discuss the poems you have chosen, your role will be a “discussion partner.” This designation means that you will have studied the poems and will be an active leader in our-in class discussion. I’m going to encourage you to write periodic blog entries on what you are learning about the poems you are reading—in part to prepare for the final writing project in the course (more on that in a few weeks).

Finally, I will reach out to each of you before your scheduled class discussion, too, to prepare for how we want to use the class time and to have a preliminary conversation about the poems and poet(s). To be clear: this is not a presentation requirement. Though you may want to provide Mark with ancillary materials to post on the class site so that others in the group will have relevant biographical and contextual information so that our time in class can be spent on the poems.

The poets below and the collections will lead you to specific books of poems. For some poets, a selected (or collected) poems, if available, is a good place to start. However, one of the joys of learning about a poet’s work is discovering a poem in the book it was originally published, as well as learning how books of poems are distinctive—such as William Carlos Williams’ Spring and All (1921), Wallace Stevens’s Harmonium (1923), Elizabeth Bishop’s North and South (1946), or John Berryman’s Dream Songs in the 1960s.

Nota bene: When you select the representative and/or exemplary poems and send them to Mark, please include the book of poem in which each poem was originally published.

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