Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween Potluck

Since next class will fall on the Celtic New Year, aka Halloween, let us follow Stella's suggestion and take the opportunity to share some refreshment. Let us all bring something to eat, drink, and be merry. And keep it simple to share and consume. . .

Use the comment tool for this post to name your contribution, so people can get a sense of what others are bringing. That way we won't all end up with too many brownies (is there such a thing?) and nothing to drink. . .

Readings, Listenings, Viewings, and Writing

for October 31 Class

1. Dana Gioia, "Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture," Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2004. [PDF]
2. Henry Sayre, "Performance," Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995. [PDF]
3. Donald E. Pease, "Author," Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995. [PDF]
4. Annabel Patterson, "Intention," Critical Terms for Literary Study, 2nd edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995. [PDF]
5. Willie Perdomo, Where a Nickel Costs a Dime.

Willie Perdomo, Where a Nickel Costs a Dime
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1. View Lemon's performances at his Web site:
2. Explore the Def Poetry Jam videos available at YouTube, viewing at least 10 performed poems of your choice.

Write a brief analysis (about 200 words) of one of the poems assigned for class, be it by Willie Perdomo, Lemon, or a Def Poet of your choice. Focus on what elements of its performance contribute to your interpretation of the poem. Post it before class as a comment on this message.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

English 6058: Beyond the Anthology: Poetry and Its Contexts

Essay #2: the Poetry Book

Description and Goals

The purpose of this essay is to explore a poem (or group of poems) in the context of its publication in a book by an author, in order to inform its analysis, interpretation, and/or teaching. The contexts discussed up to this point in the course are still relevant and should be researched, but the focus of your analysis should be on the publication. Issues of multiple publications, revisions, manuscripts, and versions should be explored if relevant. In order to put the theory and research into practice, you have two options to fulfill this assignment:
  1. Write an essay in which you analyze and interpret a poem (or small group of poems), informed by the contexts specified above. Your essay's thesis should be an interpretation of the poem(s) supported by analysis of its textual elements as informed by research into the contexts relevant to the poem and it should employ a clear theoretical perspective.
  2. Write an essay about how to teach a poem (or small group of poems) employing the contexts specified above, and informed by a clear theoretical perspective. You must specify what population you wish to teach the poem(s) to as well as having clear educational goals. Based on this, your thesis should state the contexts you consider would be most relevant to achieve your educational objective with that target audience. Prepare a small unit of lesson plans (about 3) as an example of how you would teach the poem(s).


  1. Your primary research should be the book of poems, its sections, organization, progression, artwork, and other contexts that can inform the analysis of the poem(s).
  2. You may choose any book of poems you wish, as long as it is an original publication, rather than a "selected or collected poems" kind of collection.
  3. Your essay should be informed by research and literary theory. You may find, however that little has been written on entire books of poems, aside from reviews, so you may have to explore the context of the book on your own. I am at your service, if you need help. The quality of the research will be a factor in the evaluation, so I encourage you to use peer-refereed journals in your research. As far as theory is concerned, you don't need to align yourself with a specific theoretical perspective-- you can mix and match, if you are so inclined-- but you should be up front as to what your theoretical inclinations are. I recommend you write a statement of your theoretical position before you write your essay to guide your research and thought about the poem(s), and incorporate a version of this into your theoretical discussion that should be part of the essay.
  4. The essay should be approximately 1500-2000 words in length (6-8 pages), including lesson plans or supplementary materials. It should be formatted and documented in impeccable MLA Format (here's a good online resource, if you don't own a copy of the MLA Handbook:
  5. Proposal: E-mail me a brief description of what you plan to do for this essay. Specify the option you chose, the poem(s) you chose (if you chose a small group of poems, explain the rationale for the selection and/or grouping), and provide a tentative thesis. This is due by Wednesday, October 31. It's okay to change your topic, poem(s) and/or thesis after that-- your proposal is not cast in stone-- but let me know of radical departures from the proposal.
  6. The essay is due on Wednesday, November 14. Turn in a printed version at the beginning of class.


Your essay will be evaluated holistically, taking into consideration the following criteria:
  • Fulfillment of the assignment
  • Engagement with the poem(s)
  • Use of relevant contexts
  • Quality of the research
  • Logical development of the argument
  • Sentence structure, grammar, usage, and mechanics
Your essay will receive a letter grade, numerically interpretable on a 4-point scale. No revisions will be allowed, so please seek help before the essay is due, if needed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Readings & Listenings for October 24

Assigned Materials:
  • Listen to Paul de Vree's concrete sound poems, read his visual poems, and manifesto by following the links in the following page:
  • Explore UBUWEB::SOUND and see what you discover.
  • Read about Dylan Thomas in the following Web site:
  • Read the following entries in the New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: "Sound," "Rhythm," "Rhyme," and "Meter."
  • Listen to Dylan Thomas' Caedmon Recordings, available at:
1. The Widescreen Macintosh Computer in the ETC. Use iTunes to burn a copy of the playlist titled "Dylan Thomas - October 24 Class." Be sure the computer is logged in as ETC Printing (top right corner of screen). You can save the whole thing in MP3 format or fit about 18 tracks in an audio CD-- you'd have to use the "preferences" in iTunes to change the type of CD you burn.
2. You can also click on each link and either listen to the tracks on your computer or download the files and listen to them wherever you like.

Disk 1:
Billy Collins Introduction
Fern Hill
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
In The White Giant's Thigh
Ballad Of The Long-Legged Bait
Ceremony After A Fire Raid
A Few Words Of A Kind
On The Marriage Of A Virgin
The Hunchback In The Park
Over Sir John's Hill
Especially When The October Wind
Disc 2:
Billy Collins Introduction
Poem On His Birthday
Should Lanterns Shine
There Was A Saviour
A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, Of A Child In London
If I Were Tickled By The Rub Of Love
And Death Shall Have No Dominion
A Winter's Tale
Author's Prologue
The Hand That Signed The Paper
Altarwise By Owl Light (1st Verse)
The Tombstone Told When She Died
If My Head Hurt A Hair's Foot
Poem In October (It Was My Thirtieth Year)
Love In The Asylum
In My Craft And Sullen Art
Dawn Raid
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines
After The Funeral
In Country Sleep


Monday, October 15, 2007

Readings for Wednesday, October 17

Explore the William Blake Archives (, making sure you read the following sections:
1. "Illuminated Printing" (
2. "Biography" (
3. "Editorial Principles" (
4. "Songs of Innocence and Experience" (

Theoretical Readings (in Course Packet):
1. Erdman, "from 'Introduction' to 'The Illuminated Blake'"
2. Drucker, "The Material Word" and "The Art of the Written Image"
3. Shillingsburg, "Text as Matter, Concept, and Action"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

From Manuscript to Print: Emily Dickinson


  • Explore the Dickinson Electronic Archives (, including the digital articles you haven't signed up for. If needed, the username is "dickinson" and the password "ink_on_disk".
  • Prepare for group presentations on chosen digital articles, available at:
    • Presentations should be 10-15 minutes long-- no longer.
    • The presentations should briefly summarize the article, provide an example of Emily Dickinson's work discussed in the article, highlight the key issues it raises, and provide the group's position on the issues raised by the article.
  • Readings (available in course packet at SAC):
    • Smith, Martha Nell. "Because The Plunge From the Front Overturned Us: The Dickinson Electronic Archives Project." Studies in the Literary Imagination 32.1 (Spring 1999): 133.
    • Shillingsburg, Peter. "Textual Angst: Literary Theory and Editorial Practice." Resisting Texts. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1997.

"Axe Handles" by Gary Snyder

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
the pattem is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with-"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wen Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature"-in the
Preface: "In making the handle Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand.-
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.