Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Course Description

Extensive reading of works by major poets, including Lowell, Levertov, Rich, Heaney, Pinsky, and Dove. Emphasis on the evolution of each poet’s work and the questions of poetic influence and literary tradition. Instruction and practice in oral and written communication.

This is meant to be a discussion course. One factor that will legislate against this aim is the instructor’s digressive wordiness. We must all fight against that. The fundamental rule of thumb is that you ALWAYS are entitled to the floor. And a second is that attendance is a vital necessity because there is no way to “get the notes” or “make up for what you missed.” I will take attendance regularly, and give weight to your attendance record in your term grade.

Writing Assignments

Let’s get this business of extensions out of the way, right off. On that score, I am a total jerk. One thing totally frosts me – for you to stroll in a day or so late with a paper and say, “Can I turn this in, now?” What part of “No” don’t you understand? If you look at the due dates and feel you will be unable to write a satisfactory essay to be submitted then, talk to me as soon as possible. If you find yourself, on the due date, just not happy with what you’ve done, turn it in, let’s talk it over, and then revise and resubmit without penalty. Up to the end of the term, that is. I hate Incompletes almost as much as I hate the New York Yankees.

You will be required to write two 5-page analytic essays, each dealing with a specific poem from one of the assigned texts. I’d prefer you avoid poems we spend a lot of class time on. If you are unclear about what I expect, talk to me sooner rather than later. And don’t ever, ever, ever try “I’m busy” as an explanation of any dereliction. Let’s be frank: this is MIT. Everyone is busy, all of the time.

Your final project will be a more extended essay, running to 10-15 pages, and assessing how the work of one of our poets confronts the “real” world and its complexities. Tactically, work through the focused analysis of two or three specific poems.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment Written Assignments