English 43B

Introduction to the Writing of Verse: Received Forms and Invented Forms

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2012 Pugh, Megan
Pugh, Megan
MW 10:30-12 301 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

A course reader, available at Copy Central, including poems by Ted Berrigan, Elizabeth Bishop, Heather Christle, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Kenneth Koch, Bernadette Mayer, Claude McKay, Harryette Mullen, Claudia Rankine, William Shakespeare, and others.


In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a number of British poets adapted the Italian sonnet to craft a form that would become central to English literature: fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, with three rhymed quatrains and a closing couplet. Nearly four hundred years later, Bernadette Mayer suggested the following writing experiment: “Take a fourteen-block walk, writing one line per block to create a sonnet.” Mayer defined her sonnet by means of a new formal constraint: geography.

This introduction to the writing of verse takes form as its theme. We’ll read work by a wide variety of poets who approach form in different ways, whether accepting traditional rules, breaking those rules, or inventing new ones. We’ll do some improvisatory writing in class, both alone and in groups, and you will also be expected to devote considerable time to crafting and revising your own work.

To be considered for admission to this course, please submit 5 photocopied pages of your poetry, along with an application form, to Megan Pugh's mailbox in 322 Wheeler BY 4:00 P.M., TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, AT THE LATEST.

Be sure to read the paragraph concerning creative writing courses on page 1 of this Announcement of Classes for further information regarding enrollment in such courses!

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