Why read a poem? Why write one? People say modern poetry as an art form is imperiled in our time, yet everywhere in the world cultures and individuals memorize, recite, and value various forms of poetry. This course will attempt to define this genre of poetry writing, to discuss its particular attributes, to distinguish between good and bad poetry, to explain why so much writing poetry is difficult, and to isolate the sorts of truths modern poetry seems best at conveying. Our focus will be on modern poetry, in English and in translation.
1. Course Introduction
2. Poetry and the Arrest of Life
3. Richard Burton reads 'Adlestrop' by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
4. Poetry and Difficulty
5. Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Poetry
6. The Poet on Poetry
7. "Sunday Morning," Wallace Stevens
8. "The Graveyard by the Sea," Paul Valéry.
9. "The Moon and the Yew Tree", Sylvia Plath.
10. "At the Fishhouses," Elizabeth Bishop.
11. Philip Larkin and W.H. Auden.
12. What are they trying to tell us?
13. Conclusion, Part One: Poetry: What It Is, And How to Understand It
14. James Merrill's "Santorini: Stopping the Leak." A Poem of Therapeutic Arrestation
15. Love, and the Arrest of Life
16. Charles Wright's Black Zodiac
17. STOPPING THE LEAK: T.S. Eliot's Poem, "Virginia"
18. Poetry and the way it undermines us: Weldon Kees and Donald Justice Part I
19. Poetry and the way it undermines us: Weldon Kees and Donald Justice Part 2