English 368: Reading and Writing Poetry (Albergotti) ENGL 368 syllabus
Saul Bellow defines the writer as “a reader moved to emulation.” James Longenbach says that “To write one poem, you have to read a thousand of them.” These are just two examples of the many successful writers who have attested to the central role of reading in the development of any writer’s growth. But is it enough simply to read as readers do, or do writers read in a different way? This course explores the special way that writers read—not simply to be entertained or to investigate a text’s aesthetic, social, or historical value, but to understand the artistry that lies behind the words on the page, to discover strategies and avenues for poem-making, and ultimately to find ways to contribute to an artistic conversation in English that’s been going on since Beowulf.
The first half of the course focuses on learning to read in this “writer’s way.” The second half is a poetry workshop. Students write two short papers and four poems, and they collect the poems (in original and revised forms) in a final portfolio.