Tracy K. Smith Visits Chinaby Harriet Staff
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From these old, completed poems, he went on to others that he had begun and left unfinished, getting into their spirit and sketching the sequels, though without the slightest hope of finishing them now. Finally getting his stride and carried away, he started on a new poem.
After two or three stanzas and several images by which he himself was struck, his work took possession of him and he felt the approach of what is called inspiration. At such moments the relation of the forces that determine artistic creation is, as it were, reversed. The dominant thing is no longer the state of mind the artist seeks to express but the language in which he wants to express it. Language, the home and receptacle of beauty and meaning, itself begins to think and speak for man and turns wholly into music, not in terms of sonority but in terms of the impetuousness and power of its inward flow. Then, like the current of a mighty river polishing stones and turning wheels by its very movement, the flow of speech creates in passing, by virtue of its own laws, meter and rhythm and countless other relationships, which are as yet unexplored, insufficiently recognized, and unnamed.
At such moments Yurii Andreievich felt that the main part of the work was being done not by him but by a superior power which was above him and directed him, namely the movement of universal thought and poetry in its present historical stage and the one to come. And he felt himself to be only the occasion, the fulcrum, needed to make this movement possible.
This feeling relieved him for a time of self-reproach, of his dissatisfaction with himself, of the sense of his own insignificance.Pasternak, Boris. Doctor Zhivago. New York: Pantheon Books, 1958. 437.
This is a course on poetry with a primary emphasis on lyric verse written in England, Ireland, and America from the end of the Middle Ages to the present. Our emphasis will be on prosody, craftmanship, versification. Literary scholars can hone skills of argument and exegesis answerable to an array of theoretical and historical perspectives and it will offer writers a chance to think about the aesthetic consequences of a variety of romal choices. We'll begin with a unit on poetic line in isolation before turning to questions of meter, scansion, enjambment, end-stopping, rhyme and free verse. We will move on to English stanza forms: couplets, quatrains, tercets, rhyme royal, ottava rima, Spenserian stanza. We will then move to sonnets, ballads, villanelles, songs, hymns, monologues, elegies. Our final unti will take up three poets who have a complex relationship to the poetic past: Yeats, Eliot, Stevens. Requirements; a journal that will include several exercises in versification and a final exegetical paper (10-12 pages).
Book: Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th Edition
This course focuses on the current state of contemporary American Poetry and how its forms have changed. We'll discuss the evolution from deep image lyricism to language-poetic fragmentation to fresh approaches toward line, image, and phrase. We will debate the notion that American poetry has evolved into a "hybrid" form that bridges old schools of poetic thought. Close reading of texts by key poets, along with craft talks centered on poems each student will submit, should lead toward a deeper immersion into the shifting terrain of the modern poem. Each student will create and submit one major project centered on American poetry and its vast changes. This project will require a combination of written paper, performance, and media presentation. Required texts: American Hybrid: Anthology of New Poetry (Cole Swenson, David St. John); A Wave, John Ashbery; The Complete Poems, Elizabeth Bishop; Averno, Louise Gluck; Selected Poems, George Oppen; Hotel Insomnia, Charles Simic.
An unruly paean to American poetry, Cooling Time blurs the divisions between poem, memoir, and essay, while borrowing regularly from the peculiarities and backwards of the American idiom. The book's title derives from a line of legal defense, unique to Texas courts: if a person kills someone before having had time "to cool" after receiving an injury or an insult, he is not guilty of murder. Ever focused on possibilities, C.D. Wright--who was called "one of America's oddest, best, and most appealing poets" by Publisher's Weekly and who just received a MacArthur Fellowship--demonstrates that "the search for models becomes a search for alternatives." Filled with humor, eroticism, and an hypnotic fascination with language, Cooling Time is a prickly love-letter to the life of poetry. As she writes: "Tell me, what is the long stretch of road for if not to sort out the reasons why we are here and why we do what we do, from why we are not in the other lane doing what others do."