Carrie R Matthews
Critical interpretation and meaning in poems, representing a variety of types and periods.
ENGLISH 243: Reading and Writing Poetry Across Borders
This course is for anyone curious about poetry and willing to experiment with ways of reading and writing poems. We will mull over questions ranging from "What, exactly, is a sonnet?" to "What does it mean to use the form of a classic Petrarchan love sonnet to write an anti-love poem lamenting being tied down to a wife?" and "What choices confront a writer translating an 8th-century classical Chinese poem for a 21st-century Anglophone audience?"
English 243 will introduce you to a variety of poetic forms and ways of reading them. We will explore some love poems, twisted love poems, and poems featuring corpses, as well as poems that have nothing to do with love or death. You will also practice writing in a few poetic forms yourself (to learn about poems from the inside out) through rule-bound poem assignments. Those of you with some knowledge of a language other than English will have the opportunity to translate a poem and reflect on that process; everyone will try their hand at imitating poems or a few lines from a poem.
Student learning goals
Learn to enjoy reading poetry (if you don't already)
Understand some of the most famous, most common, and most interesting poetic forms, including sonnets, villanelles, calligrammes, and prose poems
Develop a technical vocabulary for reading poetry and experience using those terms in analyzing poems
Learn about poems from the inside out by writing your own poems as well as imitations and/or translations of others' poems
General method of instruction
a little lecture, a lot of seminar discussion and small group work
Nothing. I don't expect anyone in the class to have expertise--or even experience--reading poetry. I do expect you to come with an open mind, curiosity, and willingness to experiment with your reading and writing practices.
Class assignments and grading