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Syllabus 2023-24


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, 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). 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: 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: Alternative Modernisms (Ideas and Things): Williams and Stevens. Required Reading: Williams,“Arrival”; “The Great Figure” (handout); “Spring and All” ("By the road to the contagious Hospital"); “To Have Done Nothing”; “To Elsie” (or, "The pure products of America", LOA 450); “The Red Wheelbarrow” (or "so much depends," LOA 453); “At the Ball Game”; Poem (“As the cat”) (handout); “This is just to say" (LOA); “The Locust Tree in Flower” (both versions) (handout); “To a Poor Old Woman”; “Proletarian Portrait”; “The Term” (handout); “A Sort of a Song” (LOA); “El Hombre” (handout); Stevens: “Nuances of a Theme by Williams” (handout); “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”; “The Snow Man”; “The Idea of Order at Key West”; “Poetry is a Destructive Force”; “The Poems of Our Climate”; “Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself” (LOA and handout).

Texts on Poetics: Williams, excerpts from The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams and "The Descent of Winter" (handout). Stevens, "Williams" (handout).

Recommended Reading: James Longenbach, "Stevens and his Contemporaries," in The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens (available as e-text through library portal); Glen MacLeod, "Williams and his Contemporaries,"in The Cambridge Companion to William Carlos Williams (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” (Hughes, Selected Poems), 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: Shira Wolosky, "Emily Dickinson: Being in the Body," in The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson, Wendy Martin, editor (available as e-text through 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:

Anne Bradstreet, "The Author to Her Book," Sylvia Plath, “The Applicant,” “Morning Song," "Daddy,” "Lady Lazarus." A. Lorde, “Who said it was simple,” “Power.” Lisa Robertson, “How to Judge.” Simone White, “Hour in which I consider Hydrangea,” Juliana Spahr, “Tradition,” Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, "Permanent Home."

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 (handout).



Week 1: What Comes After the Modern(ists)? Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan. Required Reading: Charles Olson: "I, Maximus of Gloucester, to You," "Letter 3," "Maximus to Himself" (POMO). Robert Duncan: "Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow," "The Torso: Passages 18" (POMO). Robert Creeley: "A Form of Women," "The Rain," "For Love," "The Language," "The Window," "The World" (POMO).

Texts on Poetics: Charles Olson, “Projective Verse” (POMO), “Letter to Elaine Feinstein” (handout). Robert Duncan, "Pages from a Notebook" (handout). Robert Creeley, "Form" (POMO).

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


Week 2: Some Versions of New York: Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler. Required Reading: O’Hara: “Meditations in an Emergency,” The Day Lady Died,” “Personal Poem,” “A Step Away from Them,” “Ave Maria,” “Steps,” “Lana Turner has Collapsed" (POMO) “In Memory of My Feelings” (handout). Schuyler: “Letter to a Friend: Who is Nancy Daum?”, “Korean Mums" (POMO),“February,” “A Stone Knife,” “Salute,” “Voyage autour de mes cartes postales”, “Buried at Springs” (handout).

Texts on Poetics: O’Hara, “Personism: A Manifesto” (POMO). Schuyler, selections from The Letters of James Schuyler to Frank O'Hara (handout).

Recommended Reading: David Herd, "Stepping Out with Frank O'Hara," in Frank O'Hara Now (available as e-text through library portal).

Week 3: (long form 1): Another New York: Langston Hughes, Montage of a Dream Deferrred. Required Reading:  Hughes, "Montage of a Dream Deferred."

Recommended Reading: Benjamin R. Lempert, "Hughes/Olson: Whose Music? Whose Era?" in American Literature, vol. 87, no. 2, June, 2015: 303-330 (available as e-text through our library portal).

Week 4: "Further than the Page": John Ashbery, Barbara Guest. Required Reading: Ashbery, “The Instruction Manual,” “A Blessing in Disguise,” “Soonest Mended” (handout), “Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape”; “The One Thing that Can Save America,” “The Other Tradition,” “Paradoxes and Oxymorons” (POMO). Guest: "Red Lilies" (POMO), "Parachutes, My Love, Could Carry Us Higher," "Nocturne," "The First of May," "Roses," "The Nude" (handout).

Texts on Poetics: Guest, “A Reason for Poetics” (POMO).

Recommended Reading: Ben Lerner, "The Future Continuous: Ashbery's Lyric Mediacy" (handout).

    Week 5: Beat and Mainstream or The Raw and the Cooked: Required Reading: selected poems by Allen Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman, Diane Di Prima, Robert Lowell, Robert Frost, and Elizabeth Bishop. Ginsberg, Howl (Part 1), "A Supermarket in California," "On Neal's Ashes" (POMO). Kaufman, "Afterwards, They Shall Dance," "Celestial Hobo," "Battle Report," "Benediction," "Bagel Shop Jazz," "Jazz Te Deum for Inhaling at Mexican Bonfires," "War Memoir," "My Prechanteur" (handout). Di Prima: from "Revolutionary Letters" (1-10) (handout). Frost: "Mending Wall," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (LOA). Lowell: "For the Union Dead" (, "Skunk Hour" ( Elizabeth Bishop, "The Armadillo" (, "At the Fish Houses" (

    Text on Poetics: Robert Lowell, Acceptance Speech for 1960 National Book Award:

    Ginsberg, "Notes for Howl and Other Poems" (POMO).

    Required Viewing: (see pages on The Black Mountain Review, Beatitudes, J, Open Space, and Floating Bear)

    Recommended Reading: Maria Damon, "Beat Poetry: HeavenHell USA, 1946-1965" in The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Poetry (available as e-text through library portal); Steven Gould Axelrod, "The Three Voices of Robert Lowell," in The Cambridge Companion to American Poets, edited by Mark Richards (NOTE: the library mislabels as "Cambridge Companion to American Poetry; available as e-text through library portal).


    Week 7: (long form 2): Translation, Authorship, Originality, Voice: Jack Spicer, After Lorca. Required Reading: Spicer, After Lorca.

    Recommended Reading: Daniel Katz, "Jack Spicer's After Lorca: Translation as Decomposition," in Textual Practice, vol. 18, no. 1, 2004: 83-103 (available as e-text through library portal).

    Week 8: 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 9: 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).

    Week 10: (long form 3) Trauma, History, Memory: Zong! Required Reading: M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!.

    Recommended Reading: Evie Shockley, "Going Overboard: African-American Poetic Innovation and the Middle Passage," in Contemporary Literature, vol. 52, no. 4, Winter, 2011: 791-817 (available through 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) or Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (the First (1855) Edition), Malcolm Cowley, editor, Penguin Books.
    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. Langston Hughes, Selected Poems, Serpent's Tail
    7. Jack Spicer, After Lorca (Preface by Peter Gizzi), NYRB Poets.
    8. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!, Wesleyan UP.

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