21W.756 | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate

Writing and Reading Poems


This section features the course assignments, the majority of which are of two types: responses to poems and imitations of poems. There is also a selection of student work, courtesy of the authors and used here with permission.

1 Introduction  
2 Favorite Poems Bring copies for all of a favorite poem to class with copies of a one-page explanation of why the poem is one of your favorites. You will read poem and explanation in class. Bring a single copy for the professor of a letter detailing your experience with and interest in poetry.
3 Charles Olson’s Poem Write a one-page response to Olson’s poem.
4 Olson Imitations You are free in terms of length, but you must imitate Olson’s collage form and his subject matter, the nature of change.
5 Robert Creeley’s Poems Write a one-page response to one or more of Creeley’s poems.
6 Creeley Imitations

You may write more than one poem but you must imitate Creeley’s use of speech. To do the latter turn your ear to language as you and those around you use it.

Student Work

Creeley Imitation by Lauren Tashima (PDF)

7 Barbara Guest’s Poems Write a one-page response to one or more of Guest’s poems.
8 Guest Imitations

Guest’s language is more abstract than either Olson or Creeley’s. It is this quality you must try to imitate.

Student Work

Guest imitation by C. Kiersten Pollard (PDF)

9 James Schuyler’s Poem and Letter Write a one-page response to Schuyler’s poem and letter.
10 Schuyler Imitations Schuyler’s “February” is a view poem. You may do as he does and look out a window but be bold. There are many other possible views.
11 Frank O’Hara Poems

Write a one-page response to one or more of O’Hara’s poems.

Student Work

O’Hara Response by Megan Sherkow (PDF)

12 O’Hara Imitations

O’Hara called this sort of poem “I do this, I do that.” Drawing on your own experience imitate O’Hara’s use of narrative.

Student Work

O’Hara Imitation by Lauren Tashima (PDF)

O’Hara Imitation by Megan Sherkow (PDF)

13 Philip Whalen’s Poems

Write a one-page response to one or more of Whalen’s poems.

Student Work

Whalen Response by Megan Sherkow(PDF)

14 Whalen Imitations

Whalen’s poems, all of which are dated at the end, read like diaries in which he lets his mind, and the poem, skip from subject to subject. This is the technique and spirit that you should imitate.

Student Work

Whalen imitation by C. Kiersten Pollard (PDF)

Whalen imitations by Megan Sherkow (PDF)

15 Your Own Poems  

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples