Rhetoric of Poetry
124 | CCN: 44958
Instructor: Barbara Claire Freeman
Here is an example of a poem I like a lot:Last Poem #7 by Jeff T. JohnsonBecause every poem is a suicide noteBecause every poem kills itselfBecause we kill ourselves in poemsBecause death is inevitable and poetry is merely impossibleBecause you are not you and I am not IBecause poems are for sale in storesBecause we cannot write without readingBecause we would rather write than readBecause we would rather read than writeBecause we are not ourselves because we is no different than you or IBecause we is poison in the mouth because you and I are choking on our tonguesBecause our legacy is deathBecause we write on paper or we write on slave-built machines that output to paperBecause the weather is definitely getting worseBecause we cannot outlive the earthBecause we are embarrassed by this factBecause our songs do not die with us but they will die with the planetBecause we are appalled by the word planetBecause we are each other but we are aloneBecause we are reading our own poems and reproducing our own languageBecause this sounds like getting off but we cannot get offBecause language does not fit in our mouthsBecause breath was given to us and we took itBecause poetry is breath and thought and breath and thought are in short supplyBecause I love you no less because we are both deadBecause you and you and you are I and I and I_______________________________________________Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).If you are intrigued by this poem and would like to learn more about reading and writing and revising poems like it, I invite you to apply to "The Rhetoric of Poetry," a creative writing workshop open to no more than 20 sophomores or upper-division students. Prerequisites are: consent of the Instructor and at least one course on poetry (which may be either a poetry writing workshop or a course on modern/contemporary poetry). You will be happiest in this class if you agree that poems are poems and not prose because they are made from complex sentences or phrases that deviate from grammar only if they do so strategically, and that the "meaning" of a poem depends upon relationships between form, theme, and sound–and that you want to learn more about how this works. Course requirements include exercises in writing and revising poems, reading many contemporary poems including at least one book and probably more, writing a short essay about a poem (i.e. a "close reading") of around three pages that you will read aloud in class prior to submission.. You’ll also be required to read your own poems aloud in class so as to learn the art of reading to an audience in a way that keeps them awake. Perhaps we will stage a poetry reading?The class counts toward fulfilling the creative-writing minor requirement. To apply, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please tell me why you are interested in taking this class and about your background in creative writing: if you’ve taken any poetry writing workshops and if so, where. Feel free to include any other pertinent information you want to share. You may waitlist yourself for the class, but will need permission from me to enroll in it. Please note: for the first two weeks of the semester any student who misses a class without written permission from me will be dropped from the class, thus allowing space for the next person on the waiting list to enroll, and that regular attendance is required. Also: any assigned book must be read in hard copy, no pdf’s are allowed.