Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Syllabus 2020-21

Click here for Talis Aspire reading list, which contains many live links to reading!


Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: America as the New. Required Reading: Walt Whitman, “Preface” and “Song of Myself” from the 1855 Leaves of Grass. Recommended Reading: Edward Whitley, “The First (1855) Edition of Leaves of Grass,” in A Companion to Walt Whitman, Edited by D. Kummings, Blackwell, 2006 (available as e-book through library portal).

Week 3: Radical Newness (Modernity as Form).Required Reading: H. D., Ezra Pound, W. C. Williams, Marianne Moore. Pound: "The Return," “The Garden,” “A Pact,” “In a Station of the Metro,” “Les Millwins,” “Tame Cat,” “Alba,” “Fan-piece, for Her Imperial Lord,” “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter,” (LOA Anthology). HD: “Orchard,” “Oread,” “Garden,” “Sea Rose,” “Sea Violet,” “Sea Poppies,” “Storm,” “Sea Iris,” “The Pool,” (LOA Anthology), “Sheltered Garden”; Marianne Moore, "To a Steam Roller," "Those Various Scalpels" (LOA anthology); Williams, “The Young Housewife” (LOA Anthology). Texts on poetics: Ezra Pound, "A Retrospect" and excerpts from Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir (handout).

 Required Viewing Assignment: Poetry vol 1, no. 4, Jan. 1913:

Recommended Reading: Alan Golding, “Experimental Modernisms,” inCambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry (available as e-text through our library portal); Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “Corpses of Poesy: modern poets consider some gender ideologies of lyric” from Genders, Races and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry.(available as e-text through library portal).

Week 4: Radical Modernity (Discourses of Progress, Discourses of Loss). Required Reading: T. S. Eliot: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (LOA Anthology); E. Pound, “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” (LOA Anthology); M. Loy, “Songs to Joannes” (LOA anthology) and “Feminist Manifesto” (hand out).

Required viewing assignment: The Egoist, vol. 1, no. 16, August 1914

Recommended Reading: Peter Nicholls, "The Poetics of Modernism" in The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Poetry (e-text through Warwick Library portal).


Week 5: Newness and Culture, or, Culture as Renewal. Required Reading:T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land(LOA anthology); Pound, Canto 2 (LOA), Canto 14 (handout).

Texts on Poetics: Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and “Ulysses, Order, and Myth,” available through our library portal: The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot, vol 2: (available through library portal: 

Recommended Reading: Marc Manganaro, “Making Up for Lost Ground: Eliot’s Cultural Geographics,” in Culture 1922: The Emergence of a Concept(available as e-text through our library portal).


Week 7: America as the New (again). Required Reading: William Carlos Williams, Spring and All; short excerpts from The Autobiography of W. C. Williams(handout). Recommended Reading: Lisa Steinman, “William Carlos Williams: Spring and All” in A Companion to 20thCentury Poetry, Edited by Neil Roberts (Blackwell), available as e-text through library portal.


Week 8: Violence, Heritage, History: The Harlem Renaissance. Required Reading: Claude McKay: “The Harlem Dancer,” “The Tropics in New York,” “Harlem Shadows,” “If We Must Die” “Dawn in New York,” “Outcast,” “Negro Spiritual” (LOA anthology), “The White City” (Black Poets);James Weldon Johnson, “O Black and Unknown Bards” (Black Poets);Angelina Weld Grimke, “Tenebris,” “A Mona Lisa,” “Epitaph on a Living Woman” (LOA anthology); Anne Spencer, “At the Carnival,” “Lines to a Nasturtium" (LOA anthology); C. Cullen: "Yet Do I Marvel," "Incident," "Heritage" (Black Poets), A. Bontemps: "Reconnnaissance," “Nocturne of the Wharves,” "A Black Man Talks of Reaping" (Black Poets), Sterling Brown, “Slim in Hell” (Black Poets), Langston Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”; “Dinner Guest: Me” (Black Poets), “Afro-American Fragment,” “Danse Africaine,” “I, Too” (handout), Jean Toomer, “Georgia Dusk” (Black Poets).

Texts on Poetics: Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” :

 Required Viewing Assignment: “The Crisis,” December, 1922:

Recommended Reading:Sharon Lynette Jones, “The Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance,” in The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Poetry(available as e-text through library portal); Marisa Parham, "Hughes, Cullen, and the In-Sites of Loss.”


Week 9: Domesticity, Privacy, Violence: Emily Dickinson. Required Reading: the following Emily Dickinson poems, found in Final Harvest:“I never lost as much but twice,” “I’m ‘wife--I've finished that,” “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers,” “I held a jewel in my fingers,” “There’s a certain Slant of light,” “I felt a Funeral in my Brain,” “The Soul selects her own Society,” “I know that He exists,” “After great pain, a formal feeling comes—,” “Rehearsal to Ourselves,” “I heard a Fly buzz--when I died--” “I started Early-Took my Dog--” “Mine--by the Right of the White Election!”, “The Heart asks Pleasure--first--,” “To fill a Gap,” “The Brain--is wider than the Sky--” “I cannot live with You-,” “Me from Myself--to banish--,” “Pain--has an Element of Blank--,” “One need not be a Chamber--to be Haunted--” “Essential Oils--are wrung--” “Publication--is the Auction,” “Because I could not stop for Death--” “Renunciation--is a piercing Virtue--” “My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun--” “A loss of something ever felt I-” “The Missing All – prevented Me,” “Title divine – is mine!” “I saw no Way—The Heavens were stitched” “Color – Caste – Denomination.” Excerpts from her letters (handout).

Recommended Reading: Cristanne Miller, “Lyric Strains,” in Reading in Time: Emily Dickinson in the 19thCentury(available as e-book through our library portal).


Week 10: Violence, Gender, Sex—Some Feminisms. Required Reading: Marianne Moore, “Roses Only” (, Adrienne Rich, “Trying to Talk With a Man” (handout), “Diving Into the Wreck” (, Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Mother” (Black Poets).

And the following poems from this page:

Plath, “The Applicant,” “Morning Song.” A. Lourde, “Who said it was simple,” “Power.” Lisa Robertson, “How to Judge.” Simone White, “Hour in which I consider Hydrangea,” Juliana Spahr, “Tradition.”

Texts on Poetics and Sexuality: Adrienne Rich, "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence."

Recommended Reading: Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller, “Feminism and the Female Poet,” in Blackwell’sConcise Companion to 20thCentury American Poetry, S. Fredman, ed, Blackwell, 2005 (scanned extract).



Week 1: The institution of Newness, or “What does Not Change / Is the Will to Change”: The New American Poetry Anthologyand Postwar Avant-gardes. Required Reading: Charles Olson, “The Kingfishers” (; Allen Ginsberg, “A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley” (; John Ashbery, “A Blessing in Disguise” (; James Schuyler, “Salute” (handout); Robert Duncan, “Often I am permitted to return to a Meadow” (POMO); Barbara Guest, “Sunday Evening” (handout); Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “In Goya’s Greatest Scenes we Seem to see” (POMO); Denise Levertov, “Beyond the End” (hand out) Frank O’Hara, “Meditations in an Emergency” (POMO); Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, "Duncan Spoke of a Process" (POMO); Gary Snyder “Riprap” (POMO); Bob Kaufman, “Plea” (handout); A. B. Spellman, “When Black people are together,” “In Orangeburg My Brothers Did” (Black Poets).

Texts on Poetics: Charles Olson, “Projective Verse” (POMO), “Letter to Elaine Feinstein” (handout).

Recommended Reading: Paul Hoover, Introduction, POMO Anthology, pages, xxix-Ivii.


Week 2: Jazz: Music, Authenticity, Counterculture. Required Reading: Bob Kaufman, “Battle Report,” “Jazz Te Deum for Inhaling at Mexican Bonfires,” “War Memoir” (handouts). Jack Spicer, “Song for Bird and Myself” (POMO), Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” (POMO), Gwendolyn Brooks “The Rites for Cousin Vit” (Black Poets) “We Real Cool” (, “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad for Emmet Till” (handout); Amiri Baraka “Am/Trak” (, Steve Jonas, “One of Three Musicians” (handout); Jayne Cortez, “I See Chano Pozo” (

Recommended Reading: LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, "Swing: From Verb to Noun," in Blues People (see Talis aspire for link); from Fred Moten, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, pages 149-163 (from the section "'Round the Five Spot"). Available as ebook through library portal, and via link on Talis Aspire.


Weeks 3-5: fictions of Choice, fictions of Time:


  • Week 3: Personal, Poetic, Social. Required Reading: Frank O’Hara, “Personal Poem,” “A Step away from Them,” “Steps,” “Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed” (all in POMO). James Schuyler, “Letter to a Friend: Who is Nancy Daum?” (POMO),"The Crystal Lithium" (POMO); “A Stone Knife” ( ).

 Texts on Poetics: Frank O’Hara “Personism: A Manifesto” (POMO).

Recommended Reading: Oren Izenberg, “Chapter 3: The Justice of My Feelings for Frank O'Hara” in Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life (available as e-text through our library portal).


  • Week 4: Circulating and Congregating: Required Reading: Bob Kaufman, “Bagel Shop Jazz” (handout), "Afterwards, They Shall Dance" (handout); Allen Ginsberg, “Howl,” (POMO), "A Supermarket in California" (POMO); John Wieners, “A Poem for record players,” “A Poem for tea heads” (handout); Elise Cowen, “Third Day of Spring” (handout), Jack Spicer, “An Answer to Jaime de Angulo” (handout), Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken,” “Mending Wall” (LOA); Robert Lowell, “Skunk Hour” (, Elizabeth Bishop, “Arrival at Santos” (

Recommended Reading: Maria Damon, “Beat Poetry:HeavenHell USA, 1946-1965” in The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry(available as e-text through our library portal).


  • Week 5:Occupying Time, Passing Time, Time Passing: John Ashbery, “Soonest Mended” (handout), “The Other Tradition” (POMO), “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” (POMO). Wallace Stevens, “Poetry is a Destructive Force” (LOA), “Study of Two Pears” (LOA), “The Poems of Our Climate” (LOA), "The Snow Man" (LOA), “The Man on the Dump” (LOA). Peter Gizzi, “In Defense of Nothing,” “A Panic that Can Still Come Upon Me,” “Hypostasis and the New Year” (POMO). Lisa Robertson, from The Weather (handout).

Recommended Reading: Ben Lerner: "The Future Continuous: Ashbery's Lyric Mediacy." Boundary 2 (2010) 37 (1). Marjorie Perloff, “Peter Gizzi’s Poetics of Contingency,” in In the Air: Essays on the Poetry of Peter Gizzi, Anthony Caleshu, ed (handout); Eleanor Cook, "Wallace Stevens" from Cambridge Companion to American Poets, Mark Richardson, editor (available as ebook through our library portal, where it is mistakenly called "Cambridge Companion to American Poetry".


Week 7: Violence of Love and Desire (1). Robert Creeley, “The Language” (POMO), “The Lover,” “The Way,” “A Form of Women,” “The Whip” (in POMO, p. 881) “All That is Lovely in Men,” “The Warning,” “A Sight,” “For Love,” “The Woman (I have never clearly given to you”), “The Business,” “Anger” (handouts, aside from poems in POMO) ; Plath, “Daddy” “Lady Lazarus” .

 Texts on Poetics:Robert Creeley, “To Define,” “Form” (both in POMO).

 Recommended Reading: Michael Davidson: Chapter Six,“ ‘The Repeated Insistence’: Creeley’s Rage” in Michael Davidson, On the Outskirts of Form(available as e-text through our library portal); Jacqueline Rose, “On ‘Daddy’” (


Week 8: Violence of love and desire (2). Gwendolyn Brooks, “When You Have Forgotten Sunday: The Love Story” (Black Poets); Whitman, “Once I pass’d through a populous city”; Adrienne Rich, “Splittings” (handout); Barbara Guest, “Parachutes, My love” (handout); Ezra Pound, “Na Audiart” (handout); Robert Duncan, “The Torso, Passages 18,” (POMO); Allen Ginsberg, “On Neal’s Ashes” (POMO); Gertrude Stein, from “Lifting Belly” (LOA); Harryette Mullen, from “Muse & Drudge” (POMO); Jack Spicer “5 Words for Joe Dunn on his 22ndBirthday” (handout); George Stanley, “Veracruz,” “The Stick” (handout); Bernadette Mayer, “First turn to me...” (;


Week 9: The Black Arts Movement. Amiri Baraka: “SOS”; “An Agony. As now”; “leroy”; “A Poem Some People Will Have to Understand”; “Letter to E. Franklin Frazier”; “Cold Term”; “Return of the Native” (all in Black Poets); Larry Neal, “James Powell on Imagination”(Black Poets); Gwendolyn Brooks, “Riot” (all four sections, Black Poets); Sonia Sanchez, “Poem at Thirty,” “Summary” (both in Black Poets); Ishmael Reed, “Beware: Do Not Read this Poem” (Black Poets); Nikki Giovanni, “For Saundra,” “The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr” (both in Black Poets).

Texts on Poetics: Amiri Baraka, “The Black Arts Movement” (handout).

 Recommended Reading: Evie Shockley, “The Black Arts Movement” in The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry(available as an e-text through our library portal).


Week 10: Protest and Politics, Then and Now. Required Reading: Following Poems from “The Poetry of the Vietnam War” page:

Denise Levertov, “Life at War”; James Schuyler, “May 1972”; Ocean Vuong, “Aubade with Burning City.”

Additional poems: Robert Duncan, “Up Rising: Passages 25” (handout); Michael Palmer, “I Do Not” (POMO); Ben Lerner, “Plume” (handout); , Layli Long Soldier, “38” (; Joy Harjo, “She Had Some Horses,” (; Harryette Mullen, “Denigration,” “Elliptical” (both in POMO); Julianna Spahr, “Turnt” (

 Texts on Poetics: excerpt from Robert Duncan, “Introduction” to Bending the Bow(handout).

 Recommended Reading: Philip Metres, “Bringing it all Back Home,” in Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Home Front since 1941 (available as e-text through our library portal).

Reading List

Texts to Buy

  1. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass and Other Writings (Edited by Michael Moon), Norton Critical Editions (Norton, 2002).
  2. Emily Dickinson, Final Harvest, H. Johnson, editor, Back Bay Books.
  3. American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 1: Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker, Robert Haas, editor, Library of America (do not buy volume 2). (abbreviated as LOA on syllabus and reading lists)
  4. Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology,2nd Edition, Paul Hoover, editor, Norton: 2013. WARNING: MAKE SURE TO BUY THE 2ND EDITION DATING FROM 2013 AND NOT THE PREVIOUS EDITION USED IN THE PAST! (abbreviated as POMO on syllabus and reading lists).
  5. The Black Poets, Dudley Randall, editor.Bantam Books.
  6. William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, New Directions, 2011.

All other texts will available as weblinks, handouts, scanned extracts, or through the library portal.

All Systems Operational