The timeline below includes the readings and due dates for the writing. Please check this timeline before and after each class as we will most likely find reasons to make changes to the work as the course unfolds.  I will also post the week’s work on the This Week page of the course blog. I have also included in the timeline dates to remember (such as when spring 2019 course registration begins) as well as the Career Speaker Series, events that are designed to help you learn about many types of businesses – what they do, what their culture is, what kinds of internships and careers they offer, and what kinds of skills you might need.

Part One: The Nineteenth Century

Week 1                       

Tuesday August 28

  • Introduction to the course
  • The stories of American poetry
  • Key terms: poetry and poetics

For next time:

  • Complete the Personal Profile and send to Mark
  •  Request an Account at KSCopenIf you already have a domain on KSCopen, you can with me about the next steps. You will then receive an e-mail with a link to create your subdomain on KSCopen. Wait to set up your domain until Thursday in class
  • Complete the reading for Thursday If you do not have Pinsky yet, no problem, you can read these short opening sections of the book when you have your copy)
  • Become familiar with the course web site. Read all of the pages. Make notes with questions. Bookmark the site on your laptop or tablet. Bookmark the site on your smart phone, if you have one, as I have chosen a theme that is mobile compatible.

Thursday August 30

  • Setting up your domain (bring your laptop or tablet)
  • A primer on individualizing and using a blog
  • Introduction to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
  • Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Selections are also available at the Longfellow Page at the Poetry Foundation
  • Reasons for Poetry. William Meredith, from Reasons for Poetry & Reasons for Criticism. Washington: Library of Congress, 1982. (Blog post on the course blog)

  • Robert Pinsky, “Introduction” and “Theory” in The Sounds of Poetry
  • Choosing a poem by Longfellow for commentary

Week 2                       

Please make sure that by the end-of-the-day on Monday you have 1) set up your blog and 2 ) submitted your blog address to Mark by email. I encourage you to put up your first blog post, a draft of a descriptive commentary on a poem by Longfellow. Include the poem and your commentary. The Poems and Commentary Page on the course blog explains what you need to know to get started.

Thursday September 6

  • Continuities and Discontinuities in American poetry and poetics. Beyond the Riverside Press’s Household Editions and the Fireside Poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whitttier, William Cullen Bryant, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell 
  • Robert Pinsky, “Technical Terms and Vocal Realities” and “Like and Unlike Sounds” in The Sounds of Poetry
  • Introduction to Walt Whitman. The 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass

For next time:

  • choose a section from the 1891-92 version of Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” that you find interesting, engaging, confusing, surprising, exhilarating, memorable, provocative, alive, objectionable–you choose the term or terms. Before Tuesday, send Mark the section number and the lines. We will begin the class next week with a reading of these sections
  • Revise and edit your Longfellow entry. Also, so that the editorial process will unfold more productively, please format your commentary exactly like the final published entry in the book. Melanie’s Commentary on Walt Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me” is a good model. If you have any questions, send the question(s) to Mark by email.

Week 3                       

Tuesday September 11

  • Walt Whitman, The 1891–92 (deathbed) edition of Leaves of Grass

Before class, choose a poem from Leaves of Grass for your commentary and consider beginning work on your commentary

Career Speaker Series: MilliporeSigma  – Science 101

For next time: Choose a poem from Leaves of Grass for your commentary and consider beginning work on your commentary

Thursday September 13

  • Walt Whitman, The 1891–92 (deathbed) edition of Leaves of Grass
  • Read Robert Pinsky, “Blank and Free Verse” in The Sounds of Poetry
  • Publish commentary 2 on Emerson poem

Wednesday September 12

Take a moment and consider your intellectual work during the first three weeks of the fall semester, what you are doing this week, and the work to be done.

Reading We are midstream in our study of nineteenth American poetry. You are reading widely in a range of poetry, including poems by Longfellow, Emerson, Whitman, and Dickinson. Read as many poems as you are able. Find poems that matter to you. Consider a poem (or poems) for your memory project.

Writing You are writing a series of short commentaries on individual poems to become more intimate with the poem, its textual history, and its reception. You are completing in the first seven weeks of the course the following five commentaries and publishing them on your blog

  • Week 2: A commentary on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    Week 3 A commentary on a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Week 4 A commentary on a poem by Walt Whitman
    Week 5 A commentary on a poem by Emily Dickinson
    Week 7 A commentary on a poem from a lesser-known and anthologized nineteenth-century poet
  • During weeks 6 and 7 we will be reading the commentaries and you will be offering editorial feedback on the commentaries of your peers. Mark will also be commenting on and editing your commentaries.

Memory You will most likely be reciting your first poem by the end of week 7 so please give some thought to choosing a poem and to the process of memorization. I have added to our schedule three mini-workshops on the practice of memorizing lines of poetry.

In addition to these areas please be thinking about your blog. On Thursday the 20th we will devote some class time to the following areas: 1) the organization and clarity of your blog; 2) he “voice” or the “vibe” of your blog; 3) choosing a theme that works, pages or images or media or links to enhance the work; 4) an About page, so readers know who you are; 5) categories and tags in each of your posts; 6) licensing your work with a Creative Commons License. Questions? I’m ready to talk!

Week 4                       

Class preparation: bring a list of poems (numbers or the first lines) by Emily Dickinson you are reading and thinking about to class. If you would like, send Mark the list of poems you are reading

Tuesday September 18

Career Speaker Series: Internship Panel  – Science 101

For next class: Set up a free account

Thursday September 20

  • Emily Dickinson. Read in the materials in the Resources Page of the Emily Dickinson Archive
  • Discussion of Emily Dickinson poems. Bring to class a list of 3-5 poems related by theme and/or form. If you would like, send the list of poems to Mark before class
  • Publish commentary 3 on Whitman poem. Choosing a poem by Dickinson for commentary
  • Writing/Blog Workshop: About page, categories and tags, licensing your work. Introduction to web annotation tool
  • Poetry and Memory: Preparing for the Memorization Project

Week 5                       

Tuesday September 25

  • Emily Dickinson

Thursday September 27

  • Emily Dickinson
  • Publish commentary 4 on Dickinson poem
  • Poetry and Memory: Practicing The Memorization Project

Week 6          

Nota bene: The next two weeks at Keene State College are “open classroom days”: faculty and staff are invited to visit classes and I have opened my class to visitors. you can expect one or two visitors to our class sessions. Thank you for welcoming these visitors!

Tuesday October 2

  • Selected poems by Lydia Sigourney, Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen Crane, Henry David Thoreau, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Frances E. W. Harper, George Moses Horton, Celia Thaxter, Margaret Fuller, Alexander Poesy, Jane Johnson Schoolcraft
  • Choosing a poem from a lesser-known and anthologized nineteenth-century poet for commentary

Career Speaker Series (co-sponsored by the Department of English): C&S Wholesale Grocers  – Science 101

Wednesday October 3:

  • Due: Editorial feedback on commentaries (using Comment on five different commentaries. Use the template for commentaries for criteria. Focus your attention on form and content. More specific editorial feedback and copy editing will follow next week

Thursday October 4

  • Discussion of Editorial feedback on commentaries. Editorial planning session
  • Begin Poetry and Memory Project: Reciting Poems

For next time: use the comments on your commentaries to revise and finalize each piece.


This Week and next, you are completing your individual work on the last of your five commentaries, publishing your fifth commentary on your blog and reworking earlier versions of commentaries on poems by Longfellow, Emerson, Whitman, and Dickinson. And you have received comments on your commentaries.  And you have read Mark’s Commentary on Commentaries that offers a preliminary assessment of the early work and reminder about formatting guidelines. We are workshopping again on Thursday October 4

Collaborative Work Editorial and Production Work begins this week. Here are the assignments and roles:

  • Executive Editor: Mark Long My job is to oversee the elements of the project and move us toward our deadlines. I am available to meet with groups at any time and will happily contribute my help where and when necessary.
  • Managing Editors: Robbie, Asia, Meagan, Mariah This role is editing and copy-editing the commentaries. Authors will upload to a Google doc for asynchronous or synchronous editing. There will be between 40-50 commentaries.
  • Editorial Team: Alexa, Lexi, Trish will be working with Mark to revisit, edit, and copy-edit the fifteen commentaries in the book American Poetry and Poetics and reporting back to the class with formatting suggestions and guidelines.
  • Sound Team: TJ and Fletcher will be giving authors instructions on producing sound files and embedding in Word Press.
  • Contributors Team: Nick and Cam will be creating an authors page for the book. This work is designing and generating content for a page with thumbnail images of the contributors (or an avatar if the contributor wishes). We will be shooting for a page like the People Page on the Democracy + Culture site I built with students in another course


Week 7   

Tuesday October 9

  • Looking Ahead to the Twentieth Century: An Introduction to Twentieth-century American poetry and poetics
  • Workshop on choosing and presenting poems. Options for sharing and discussing exemplary and representative poems
  • Publish commentary 5 on a poem from a lesser-known and anthologized nineteenth-century poet

Career Speaker Series: BAE Systems  – Science 101

Thursday October 11

All five of your revised commentaries will be available for reading on your blogs no later than midnight on Monday October 15th. You will have a commentary on one poem each by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfelllow, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and a poet of your choice. Also make an appointment with Mark for an individual mid-term conversation about the course.

Part Two: The Twentieth Century 

Week 8

Tuesday October 16

  • Mark is away for family medical emergency. No class. Complete individual work on commentaries

Thursday October 18

Looking Ahead

The final versions of your commentaries will be uploaded to the Google Folder American Poetry and Poetics Fall 2018 no later than Sunday October 21. You will have a commentary on one poem each by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfelllow, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and a poet of your choice. You will also post a sound file of you reading for each of the poems. Please use the file naming conventions in the English 490: Using this Folder file.

Mark will be copy editing the entries and working with individual authors over the next few weeks as we move through the production and publishing phase of the commentary project. More details on this when I am able to better determine my schedule.

For Tuesday:

Read and follow the links from the Modernism Entry in the Poetry Foundation’s Glossary of Poetic Terms.

Read the Entry on TS Eliot. Read (and come to class next week prepared to discuss Eliot’s essay Tradition and the Individual Talent and the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land

Read the Entry on Ezra Pound (1855–1972) at the Poetry Foundation. Read Canto 1. Read A Pact and In a Station at the Metro. Read A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste and  Vortex

Week 9                       

Tuesday October 23

Thursday October 25

  • Meet at the Keene State College Archives on the ground floor of the Mason Library. We will be talking about poems and working with the editions of poems in the Modern Poetry Collection

Week 10        

Tuesday October 30

Wallace Stevens (1879–1955)

  • Read the overview essay at the Poetry Foundation and Peter Schjeldahl’s Review of Paul Mariani’s biography The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens (2016)
  • Browse the poems at the Poetry Foundation, read the poems on the course web site, and read and come prepared to discuss

Of Modern Poetry

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Anecdote of the Jar

The Emperor of Ice Cream

The Snow Man

Bibliography Poetry Harmonium (1923); Ideas of Order (1935); Owl’s Clover (1936); The Man With the Blue Guitar (1937); Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction (1942); Parts of a World (1942); Esthétique du Mal (1945); Three Academic Pieces (1947); Transport to Summer (1947); Primitive Like an Orb (1948); Auroras of Autumn (1950); Collected Poems (1954); Opus Posthumous (1957); The Palm at the End of the Mind (1967). Prose The Necessary Angel (1951)

Collected Poems (1954) PS3537 .T4753 1954, The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination (1951) PN1055 .S68 1951. A range of print and digital secondary materials are available using the Mason Library Keene-Link Catalog.

Thursday November 1

The Hart Crane exhibit at the Poetry Foundation is excellent. Browse and enjoy. Make sure that you have a look, specifically, at

Selected Bibliography PoetryThe Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose (1966); The Bridge (1930); White Buildings (1926). ProseLetters (1952). The critical and biographical materials in the Mason Library offer materials for further study

Week 11         

Please note that from Friday November 9 – Saturday November 17 I will be in YanCheng, China, participating in an international poetry bridging continents symposium. We will have class on Tuesday this week but will not meet as a class again until Tuesday November 20th. This period of the class will be useful for work on the projects.

Tuesday November 6

WHAT should THE artist be today? What must he be? What can he do? To what purpose? What does he effect? How does he function? What enters into it? The economic, the sociological: how is he affected? How does his being a man or a woman, one of a certain race, an American enter into it?

If there were more air smelling of the crispness, the chill, the faint flowerless odor of ice and sunlight that reigns here, March 9, 1938, in the neighborhood of New York City today—I could do, and under like circumstances could always have done, any imaginable thing that might unreasonably be or has been expected of a man. But all days are not like today nor is my mind of a consequence always so moved. Quite the contrary.

I’ve been writing a sentence, with all the art I can muster. Here it is: A work of art is important only as evidence, in its structure, of a new world which it has been created to affirm

–William Carlos Williams, Against the Weather: A Study of the Artist

  • Browse the forty poems by Williams at Select one that you want to discuss in class, and before we meet let me know (email) which one you select
  • Read Spring and All. Pay special attention to what he says about the word imagination to follow up our discussion of the imagination this past week. Come to class with a written summary of what Williams means by the word imagination
  • Read the biographical overview William Carlos Williams at the Poetry Foundation web site
  • Read The Poem as a Field of Action, a talk Williams gave to Ted Roethke’s students at the University of Washington in Seattle (note his subtle rhetorical positioning against Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”
  • Read The American Background.  Pay special attention to the problem facing the artist in the United States and in particular Williams’ definition of culture as act “it has to be where it arises”) on page 157.

In addition to the two-volume Collected Poems and the book-length poem Paterson (we have copies in the Mason library), the Poetry Foundation has a useful Williams bibliography

The Memory Project: Fletcher, Asia, and Mariah

Thursday November 8

Marianne Moore

I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the genuine.

E.E. Cummings

silent skies bluer than believing)a
little gay
earth opening
is all the flowers of his eyes
:april’s they

this if now
or this(young
trembling any) into flame
twig or limb
explodes and o
each living ablaze greenly thing
;may has come

love(by yes
every new
bird no bigger than to sing)
leaf is wing
and tree is voice
more leastfully than i am you
,we are spring

Week 12        

Tuesday November 13 No class meeting: project work

Thursday November 15 No class meeting: project work

Week 13         

Tuesday November 20 Poems TBA

Thursday November 22 No class: Thanksgiving break

Week 14 

Tuesday November 27

Georges Braques, Bottles and Fishes


Cover page of Tender Buttons


Thursday November 29

Week 15 

Tuesday December 4

Thursday December 6

For general context and for a richer discussion read the Introduction to the Beat Poets on the Poetry Foundation web site and browse the exhibits of materials both primary and secondary keyed to individual poets.You will find poems, articles, audio, and other online resources. (The collection of materials is an excellent model for the digital exhibit some of you are doing for your final projects.)

The Allen Ginsberg Project provides a range of materials for exploring Ginsberg’s literary and cultural presence, including complete transcriptions of many of Allen Ginsberg’s lectures at Naropa University, Brooklyn College and elsewhere, photographs of and by Ginsberg, interviews, a bibliography, an audio and video archive with links to other web-based materials, as well as Ginsberg tees, bags, albums and prints




Final’s Week

Tuesday December 11 1-3 PM

During our meeting during final’s week we will be working together to

  • Review together the projects you have completed this semester, including the editorial project and your individual contributions as a contributing editor to the book American Poetry and Poetics: A Reader’s Guide
  • Generate from your experiences in the course a list of learning outcomes (see the prefinals period outcomes thinking in the self evaluation)
  • Celebrate language, memory, and the vitality of culture through the Memory Project: each of us will read a poem that we have learned by heart
  • Complete the course evaluation
  • Complete an open education survey to help us assess the project-based learning, open web materials, and open pedagogy strategies that have structured our work flow this semester

Before we meet, please complete the self evaluation and submit no later than Sunday December 9th