Creative Writing: Introduction to Poetry

English 1530
Section 01
Grace Gardiner
Strickland 309

In 13th century Persia, poet and theologian Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, known in the West as Rumi, wrote the following lines:

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense."

In this course we will set out as a community to enter Rumi’s “field” and talk together through the thorny yet fulfilling question, what makes a poem a poem?, focusing on craft and aesthetic components including line, imagery, sound, meter, form, shape, diction, voice, and point of view, as well as shifts in cultural and historical assumptions and definitions of these components. To support these strands of immersive inquiry, we will use as our guide a variety of both creative and critical writings by a diverse range of past, contemporary, domestic, and international authors as well as your own original pieces in workshop. Possible texts include Bettering Books’ Bettering American Poetry anthologies as well as excerpts from essays published in LitHub, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Writer’s Chronicle, and on the Academy of American Poets’ and Poetry Foundation’s websites.