Instructor: Stephanie Burt Day & Time: Mondays & Wednesdays 12:00-3:00pm (EDT) Summer 7-week session | CRN 34505 Limited to 15 students
This course is about writing—and, therefore, reading—many kinds of poetry, including brand new open forms, very old rhymed and metered forms, digital native forms, parodies, and (as Yeats put it) "imitation of great masters." It offers a chance to expand the potential for your own writing, taught mostly in workshop format, as well as a way to find models and allies.
African American poets have long embraced the private freedoms of the lyric poem—freedom to claim the authority of an uncontested first person “I”; freedom to wrangle language into new and startling forms; freedom to depart as needed from the strictures of linear reality. And yet, from its earliest iterations, African American poetry has also concerned itself with correcting and complicating the official narrative of Black life and Black subjectivity in America. This course will explore the means by which Black poets have innovated upon the lyric tradition to accommodate a sense of allegiance to a collective. In this tradition, the lyric poem has become a powerful tool with which to ponder the dynamics of self and other, intimate and political—and justice and injustice. Course readings will include work by seminal 20th Century American figures such as Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden and Lucille Clifton, as well as contemporary voices like Jericho Brown, Tyehimba Jess, Morgan Parker, Eve L. Ewing and others. We will also devote attention to lyric corollaries in film, music, visual art and performance. Students will be encouraged to respond to course themes and texts in both critical and creative form.
Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Poets" requirement for the Class of 2022.
Instructor: Josh Bell Tuesday, 6:00-8:45pm | Location: TBA Enrollment: limited to 12 students
In this workshop we will focus on the devotional poetry of John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and GM Hopkins, looking first into certain texts of the Old Testament—Psalms, Song of Solomon, Book of Job—from which so much of devotional poetry extends. In conversation with these four poets, students can expect to build and execute their own plaintive lyric “I,” design new ecstatic/meditative soundscape, and plan and deliver the imagistic configurations that will best give them direct-line access to the God (or gods) of their own choice or invention. As this a poetry workshop, all assignments will be creative.
Our thoughts and feelings about identity, self-expression, and the power of the imagination draw on the British Romantic poetry of the Long Eighteenth Century--whether we've read any or not. Focusing on John Keats (his key poems, and his key ideas, about 'negative capability', the 'camelion poet', and so on), this course makes unconventional connections into the twentieth, and twenty-first century. Tracking issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, we'll bounce from Keats into war verse; African-American poetries; world/postcolonial writing; the literature of social class; feminist experimentalism; and constructions of masculinity. Concentrators will learn how to analyze poetry in both closed and open forms.
Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Poets" requirement for the Class of 2022; formerly offered as English 58: Poets.
Written a century apart, the poems of Seamus Heaney and Thomas Hardy create an urgent call and response between earth and under-earth. The poets share metrical virtuosity, compressed lyric forms, the unfolding of personal history within public crisis and transformation, and the recognition that the acuity of sentience - the daily practice of exquisitely precise perceptual acts - is the ethical center of our brief stay above ground.
Please note that these courses will be offered on Zoom and will meet remotely for the Spring 2022 semester.
Enrollment: Each section is limited to 12 students
Open by application to both undergraduates and graduates. Class lasts 3 hours and includes the study of poetic practice in conjunction with the discussion of student work.
Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a portfolio including a letter of interest, ten poems, and a list of classes (taken at Harvard or elsewhere) that seem to have bearing on your enterprise.