609.01 Poetry Writing
Note: use of this syllabus constitutes acceptance of all the policies in it, including the policies indicated with an asterisk one the menu (left).
to Class Discussion page (for off-week
Mary Adams, Instructor
Class Meets in Biltmore Park 335
Contact information: madams (at) wcu.edu; office 227-3929
Web Page: http://www.maryadams.net
- Addonzio: Poet's Companion
- Agodon: Daily Poet
- Lehman: Oxford Book of American Poetry
- Gluck: Faithful & Virtuous Night (National Book Award 2014)
- Szybist: Incarnadine (National Book Award 2013)
- Seshadri: 3 Sections (Pulitzer Prize)
some recommended books
- Sims, Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, 2nd edition (great for contemporary writing)
- Addonzio, Ordinary Genius
- Mayes, Discovery of Poetry
online (always expanding)
*Note: you must access these
from a WCU campus or follow
these instructions to access them off campus.
- Poems in a Final Portfolio with 5-10 page critical preface:
- Structured Assignment Poems (6) 30%
- Other Poems (6) 30%
- Critical Analysis of 3 books by a contemporary poet (10-20 page paper) or Review of three
recent books with something in common--and 10 minute
- Weekly quizzes 10%
- Your commonplace book 10% (see Ordinary Genius). Please bring to class each week; I'll do a couple spot checks. You should treat this like a reading a writing diary, but of course it should be legible because I have to check it. This should contain:
- Notes on your readings of poems
- Responses to exercises in the required reading
- Other stuff.
- Grading: All poems will receive
at least a B in content unless they do not
do the assignment or are plagiarized (see
below); poems that evince extraordinary
effort or skill will receive an A. (Because
poets should be experts in the language,
I will take off for grammar errors.) All
other written assignments will be graded
like other English papers. Most poems will
experience major revisions.
- A note on the portfolio: This portfolio should contain poems we have seen and workshopped in class, either online or in person. It should not contain other poems or poems you wrote for another class.
- Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the
inaccurate or unacknowledged use of another's
material. One plagiarized assignment will
result in a 0 for the assignment; a second
instance will result in failure of the course
and may result in legal action.
- Attendance: This class is small, and
so attendance is crucial. Please don't miss
more than one class, and only if it is an
emergency. I will lower your grade for absences.
- Digital incivility: Nothing makes me madder than you texting and emailing in class. Of course, that appliles to web browsing, listening to music, messaging, making phone calls, watching porn, and using any kind of social media. Please don't do it. If I see it, I will politely ask you to leave.
- See Academic Integrity policy, Academic support policy, and grade breakdown.
Assignments and Workshopping.
We will use a structured system
for workshopping. You should email me and your classmates your poems
in Word (doc) or RTF form by the Thursday before
we workshop it. Your classmates will use this
form to respond to the poem in writing;
they will print out that form and bring it to
After the second week, workshopping
takes place in the second half of class. Students
should email me poems by Thursday afternoon.
Poems that are to be workshopped will be available
on the web and e-mailed to students by Friday
afternoon. No one should come to class without
having read the workshop poems and prepared
the workshoping sheet. Each student will
probably have at least four poems workshopped
during the semester.
In workshopping, we follow a prescribed format.
It is important for us to help each other,
but we must always also be respectful of each
Handing in Assignments in PC Format
(MS Word or RTF preferred--please don't use
the new "Vista" word format with
the docx extension). Whenever possible, you
should e-mail poems for workshop to me by
Saturday evening, so that I can e-mail them
to the class by Monday. Alternatively, you
can e-mail poems to the whole class by hitting "reply to all" to one of our class emails.
Modern Writers Research Paper:
You should read one collected
poems or three shorter poetry books by any author
from the anthology born after 1920. You can
also choose your own author as long as I approve
No popular musicians, including Bob Dylan. No children's authors. No "pop" poetry by Rod McKuen, Jimmy Stewart, Leonard Nimoy, etc.
Note: for several reasons, I would like you to avoid writing about the following topics in this class: politics, religion, fantasy (vampires, Harry Potter, Twilight) or explicit sexual material.
Also, you are honor bound to write poetry for this class and not to hand in old, previously workshopped poetry.