This course is a general introduction to poetry and poetics. The goals of the course are close reading of poetry, developing the student’s ability to ask questions which open poems to analysis, and writing lucid interpretive papers. This section of Studies in Poetry is organized around significant poetic traditions, from alliterative meter to iambic pentameter to free verse. We ask what it means for a poem to belong to a tradition, how traditions gain momentum, and why they endure or disappear.

In spring 2023, I began teaching this course with a creative writing component.


Why poetry?
Tetrameter and ballad meter (nineteenth century)
Pentameter and the sonnet (fourteenth century to twenty-first century)
Triple meters and the limerick (eighteenth century to twentieth century)
Alliterative meter (tenth century to fourteenth century)
Free verse (nineteenth century to twentieth century)
Contemporary American lyric poetry (late twentieth century to twenty-first century)

  1. Elizabeth Willis, Address (2011)
  2. Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)
  3. Edgar Garcia, Skins of Columbus: A Dream Ethnography (2019)

course website

[pictured: LeRoi Jones aka Amiri Baraka]