Modern and Contemporary U.S. Poetry
Al Filreis, English
Tuesdays, 4:30-6:30pm, University of Pennsylvania
This course is an introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry with a special emphasis on poems and extensive poetry resources teachers can use in the classroom. We will learn together how most productively and most excitingly to do a collaborative close reading of a poem—many poems but one poem at a time—that seems at first to be “difficult.” The method of our own seminar will be cooperative, collaborative, and entirely interactive, and that method will serve as a model for ideas about teaching poetry to our students. The poems we will study—by Emily Dickinson, Lorine Niedecker, Amiri Baraka, John Ashbery, Tracie Morris and others—tend to be open-ended rather than closed off in the way they present meaning, and thus require us to learn how to participate ourselves in understanding the way they mean what they mean. So the poems themselves are connected to a certain teaching method or pedagogy. In a way, this is a seminar about the pleasure and even the thrill of encountering poetry as an opportunity to become, ourselves, co-creators of significance in the arts. The seminar will meet in the Kelly Writers House at Penn, which is itself a collaborative arts community. Participants will have complete access to all the resources of the Writers House, including the KWH kitchen for our snacks during breaks!