engl 273 syllabus for gen ed6 by ZWjNJ5QI


									                                     English 273
                        Writing Poetry: A Beginning Workshop
                            Tuesday and Thursday 2-3:15

Instructor: Don Berger
Office: Tawes 1206
Phone: x5-3793 Email: dberger@umd.edu
Office hours: Thursday 12:30-2 and by appointment

Course Description: Devoted to the fundamentals of writing poetry, this course will
focus on student work while emphasizing the critical reading of appropriate literary
models, both historical and contemporary, that demonstrate exemplary technique. In-
class workshop critiques, exercises, written comments, and individual conferences are
part of a creative process in writing successful poetry. Craftsmanship (rhythm, syntax,
line, stanza, rhyme, figurative language, dramatic structure, diction, voice) and the ethics
of making poems are presented as defining aspects of good work. Continual reference is
made to modeling, drafting, and revising in connection to critical reading. How and what
do we learn from failed attempts? How do we break down the process into steps that we
can take towards writing successful poems?
While critiquing your poems in class, we’ll focus on what has helped to create an
intensity for the reader, what makes a poem striking. We’ll also pay close attention to
cliché (cliché of phrasing, of gesture, etc.) and how we can shake it or exploit it in our

Learning Outcomes: At the end of this course you will be able to select, evaluate, and
apply terms and concepts relevant to the planning, modeling, critiquing, and revising of
your creative writing; you will be able to read, study, and draw from the literature that
constitutes your cultural inheritance, with an awareness of what succeeds and what fails;
you will hone your ability to collaborate in the ongoing discourse of the workshop, in
order to carry your work forward with greater critical awareness, and to help your
colleagues carry theirs; you will have gained a renewed sense of the ethical implications
of aesthetic work; you will produce a new set of creative drafts.
Class Texts:
J.D. McClatchy, ed., The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry. ISBN

Class Procedures:
We’ll look at drafts of our own poems and critique them in class. Hand in hard copy of
poems regularly, one per week, on the due date during classtime. Assignments handed
in late will not receive full credit.

Show your revisions to me, or submit them to the workshop, as many times as you wish.

When you submit a poem, bring enough copies for all of us.

notes directly on the text.

Come to every class—your final grade will reflect your participation in the workshop. If
you have to miss a class, please give me a note (from doctor, athletic department, etc.)
that excuses your absence. Each unexcused absence will take 10 points off your
participation grade. Your excuse for an absence has to be urgent and legitimate.

If circumstances cause you to miss class, please speak with me either before or after class
or during my office hours, rather than relying on an email.

If you’re absent, you’re responsible for finding out what you missed, and you should pass
your written editorial comments on to those whose poems were workshopped during the
class you missed.

Please come see me if you have any questions about your poems—if you’re confused
about the editorial comments you’ve received, or you’re stuck on a particular
assignment, or whatever.
We’ll each meet outside of class at least twice during the term—I’ll pass around a sign-
up sheet for conferences, but you can come by any other time you wish.

Course Requirements:
Final portfolio of eight revised poems (out of 12-13 poem assignments) by the end of the
Regular attendance and full participation in workshops.
Two in-class presentations.
4 written 1-page critical responses to assigned readings.
Attendance at all Writers Here and Now readings with a short written commentary on

Quality of poems during revision process             50%
Participation                                        25%
In-class presentations and written responses         15%
Attendance at Writers Here and Now readings          10%

Please note:
You should carry with you a small notebook or some piece(s) of paper where you can jot
down any thought you have or an overheard phrase or billboard message or prospective
title or possible line or whatever you think belongs in a poem. You’ll often lose these
gifts if you expect that you’ll remember them all the next time you sit down to write.

Write every day, either revising poems or writing new ones or both, or just taking notes
or writing sentences that can later turn into poems.

When you find a poem or two by someone who interests you, find a book of theirs, a
whole collection, and get in the habit of reading collections of poems by individual
authors, though anthologies are of course good too.

Understand that the influence that other people’s poems have on yours is extremely
important. It’s key that you read poems while you’re learning to write them. Sitting at
the table and looking out the window works up to a point, for sure, but “inspiration”
really takes place in the course of carefully reading published poems as well as those of
the others in this workshop.

Remember that the workshop is not a game we play to see who doesn’t have to revise the
first draft. Revision is key—it’s understood that we’re going to rewrite, find the right
word, start over from the top, cross things out, etc. We might sometimes receive a gift of
a poem that doesn’t have to be revised at all after the first draft, but more often we’ll have
to delete and add, rephrase, etc., and the trick is to be patient and keep coming back to a
draft with a willingness to make changes in it.

If you want to show me any additional poems outside of class that you won’t be
submitting for the workshop, please do—I’ll enjoy seeing them. Just come by during
office hours or make an appointment to meet with me.

Class Schedule:

Due Thursday September 2:
Bring in a book of poems by an individual poet.
Find two poems in the assigned anthology that you’d like to read aloud and talk about
with the group.
Write a poem that focuses on a particular object—bring in enough copies for everyone.

Due Tuesday September 7:
Bring in a tanka (examples shown in class)—enough copies for us all.
Carefully read poems assigned—titles to be announced.
Hand in outlines for class presentations—one copy for me is enough.

For Thursday September 9:
Reread all poems in anthology assigned for last Thursday.
Revise object poem, using editorial notes you’ve received.
Read “Summer Baby” carefully, considering its narrative quality.

For Tuesday September 14:
Write a really bad, awful, totally amateur poem—bring in 21 hard copies.
Bring in another collection by an individual author.
Carefully read assigned poems (to be announced in class).

For Thursday September 16:
Revise tanka and bring in one copy.
Write a narrative, a poem that tells a story in verse, either fictional or autobiographical--
bring in 21 copies.
Carefully read assigned poems (to be announced in class).

For Tuesday September 21:
Write an imitation of a poem of your choice, using the original as a blueprint. Follow the
syntax and logic of the original when writing your own words—bring in 21 copies.

For Thursday September 23:
Revise tanka and bring in one copy.

For Tuesday September 28:
Read and reread poems on pp. 13,33, 175, 63, 175, 231, 267, 305, 290, 310, and 415 of
your anthology, noticing how the speaker of each of these poems describes her or his
surroundings with precise imagery.
Starting tonight draft a poem whose speaker closely describes where s/he is. Thoughts or
feelings about the place might come through the images, the way things are
described. There might be room, too, for some abstract thought or feeling or reflection
about what the speaker sees/hears/etc., but emphasize concrete, precise imagery. Create a
real place. Also, let your speaker use three or four senses, not just sight.
The James Wright and James Schuyler poems in particular might be good models for
your own poem. Do make sure you read all of the assigned poems carefully, though.
Write for at least an hour each day, including revision. Final draft of the poem is due
Tues 9/28—please bring 21 copies.

For Thurs Sept 30:
Hand in revisions of at least two of the poems you’ve written so far. One copy of each.
Read poems on pp. 517, 518, 447, 225, 205, 558, and 500 in your anthology.

For Tues Oct 5:
Write a poem in loose blank verse—remember this is unrhymed iambic pentameter.
The speaker of this poem should be someone other than yourself who’s revealing a
secret, complaining intensely about something, or expressing sorrow over the loss of
someone or something. Work hard to avoid being maudlin. Bring in 21 copies.

For Thurs Oct 7:
Bring in two revisions of poems that you didn’t hand in on 9/30 (see above).
Choose three poets from the anthology whose work you might like to discuss with the

To be continued.

1) Disabilities. If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic
accommodations with me, please contact me immediately.
2) Religious Observance. The University System of Maryland policy on religious
observances provides that students should not be penalized because of observances of
their religious beliefs. Students shall be given an opportunity, wherever feasible, to make
up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual
participation in religious observances. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the
instructor in advance of any intended absences for religious observances. Notice should
be provided in writing as soon as possible, but no later than the end of schedule
adjustment period.
3) Excused Absences. It is also the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor in
advance of any intended absences for university sanctioned events (e.g. competitions,
conferences, athletic events). Notice should be provided in writing as soon as possible,
but no later than the end of schedule adjustment period. Absences for medical reasons
must be accompanied by clear, written documentation, on letterhead, from a physician (or
other practitioner) specifying that the student was incapable of attending the missed
4) Honor Code. The Student Honor Council has requested that faculty members place
the following passage in their course syllabi:

“The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of
Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets
standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students.
 As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very
important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation,
and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student
Honor Council, please visit http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/whatis.html."

I assume that every member of the class is fully aware of the Code and the consequences
for failure to live up to the Code. I urge you to visit the website indicated above and take
seriously what you read there. All cases of academic dishonesty will be referred to the
Honor Council.

5) Inclement Weather. Assignments and exams will be rescheduled as needed, and as
feasible, on a case-by-case basis in the event of university closings or the instructor's


To top