English 43B

Introduction to the Writing of Verse

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2020 Ritland, Laura
TTh 3:30-5 note new location: 301 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will be issued with a selection of poems written in English, ranging from Renaissance sonneteers (John Donne, William Shakespeare), to 20th- and 21st-century poetry from Elizabeth Bishop, Lisa Robertson, Ross Gay, Lyn Hejinian, Matthew Zapruder, Solmaz Sharif, Dionne Brand, Don McKay and others. This reader will also include short critical essays on poetics.


This course serves an introductory creative writing workshop where participants will write, revise, and discuss their original works of poetry in a collaborative group setting. Through a series of writing prompts, technical exercises in form and meter, and a wide-ranging survey of poetry from this and past centuries, we will reflect on, explore, and experiment with our own poetic work and creative acts, as they exist in our contemporary moment. What is poetry—and how should a poet be? How does our poetic practice orient us toward our lived realities, political lives, natural and cultural environments, and our sense of who we are, here and now?

Each student will submit one poem per week for feedback and class discussion, respond to other students’ work, give a class presentation on a contemporary book of poetry, attend a poetry reading, and complete short reflection assignments on poetic craft. The final project will be the creation of a poetry chapbook.

Since this is an introduction to the writing of verse, all space in the class will be saved for sophomores and freshmen (at least initially). Interested students should enroll directly into this course, and no application or writing sample is required.

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