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


September 12, 2018: 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

  • Poems TBA

Thursday November 1

  • Poems TBA

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

  • Poems TBA

Thursday November 8 No class meeting: project work

Week 12        

Tuesday November 13 No class meeting: project work

Thursday November 15 No class meeting: project work

Week 13         

Tuesday November 20

Thursday November 22 No class: Thanksgiving break

Week 14         

Tuesday November 27

  • Poems TBA

Thursday November 29

  • Poems TBA

Week 15          

Tuesday December 4

  • Poems TBA

Thursday December 6

  • Poems TBA

Final’s Week

Tuesday December 11 1-3 PM

  • Favorite Poem Project Celebration: Final Poetry Reading