Instructor: Machado
TR 2:00 PM – 3:20 PM

What, really, is a poem? Does anyone know? I tend to think a poem is its own creature, a thing made by a person but living its own life, more or less separate from its creator. When you—who are not its creator—meet the poem, you might fall in love instantly, be moved to tears or laughter or delirium. Or you might hate the poem, be irritated or puzzled or left cold by it. Or you might grow to love (or out of love with) the poem. The thing is, you can enjoy poetry without ever figuring it out. But in this course, we’ll try to figure some things out.

Specifically, we’ll study poetry—old, new, yet to be written—as patterned language. (That’s what “form” means: patterns.) Sometimes patterns are easily noticeable (for example, the rhyme scheme in a limerick); others less so. Once you figure out its pattern, you’ll find that you appreciate the poem even more; you can read it more deeply for pleasure, surprise, and ambiguity. Readings for this course are taken from across time and space but with special emphasis on the diversity of contemporary poets. We’ll read sonnets and villanelles as much as rap songs, prose poems, and contemporary epics written in textspeak.

This is a discussion-based and writing-intensive course. Writing assignments include a mix of brief essays and, most importantly, the writing and revising of your poems.