Poetry lives in any reader, not necessarily in performance by the poet or a trained actor. The pleasure of actually saying a poem, or even saying it in your imagination—your mind’s ear—is essential. That is a central idea of “The Art of Poetry,” well demonstrated by the videos at favoritepoem.org: the photographer saying Sylvia Plath’s “Nick and the Candlestick,” the high school student saying Langston Hughes’ “Minstrel Man.” Those readers base what they say about each poem upon their experience of saying it.
The course is demanding, and based on a certain kind of intense reading, requiring prolonged, thorough— in fact, repeated—attention to specific poems.
The focus will be on elements of the art such as poetry’s historical relation to courtship; techniques of sound in free verse; poetry and difficulty; kidding and tribute—with only incidental attention to “schools,” jargons, categories, and coteries.
Learners are encouraged to think truly, carefully and passionately about what the poem says, along with how the poem feels in one’s own, actual or imagined voice. As Robert Pinsky says, in the Preface to Singing School: “this anthology will succeed if it encourages the reader to emulate it by replacing it . . . create your own anthology.” In a comparable way, this course hopes to inspire a lifelong study of poetry.
Gladys M. Andersen completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
Mechanics of course impossible to manage. Naively assumed an intelligent, disinterested benevolence and good will, and an unlimited amount of time, on part of the student peer-reviewers who decided on the students' grades. Result: extreme frustration....
Mechanics of course impossible to manage. Naively assumed an intelligent, disinterested benevolence and good will, and an unlimited amount of time, on part of the student peer-reviewers who decided on the students' grades. Result: extreme frustration. Seemingly arbitrary choice of subject for "lectures," and assignments, and a disproportionate amount of time spent on some subjects to the exclusion of more relevant (to me) subjects. Big disappointment in that I didn't get to discuss with peers or course leaders the contemporary poetry I was interested in and instead had to spend too much time on ""English 1B" poems. A special problem was that no poem published after 1923 could be printed, so anyone who by chance wanted to discuss another student's "essays" on newer poems had to find and then print out these poems. As if anyone would do this! (I did not want a grade or a certificate, just a discussion that wasn't a repetition of my college courses from years ago.)