English 4446/5446 Modern Poetry, Spring 2015

TR 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 368

In Class Activities

1. Mapping Bishop's North & South

In class, we've done close readings of "The Map" (5), "The Gentleman of Shalott" (11), and "The Fish" (43), discussing how the first deconstructs the objectivity and subjectivity of maps, the second recursively complicates Tennyson's original message of being in the world, and the third ironizes the relationship between humanity and the natural world. Today, we're going to map the issues and themes of the entire book by breaking into small groups, discussing the assigned collection ofpoems' recurring ideas, and reporting those conclusions to class.


Here are the groups and their topics:

  1. poems about water and boats: "The Imaginary Iceberg" (6), "The Colder the Air", "Seascape" (41), "Little Exercise" (42)
  2. poems about places: "Wading at Wellfleet" (9), "Large Bad Picture" (13), "From the Country to the City" (15), "Quai d'Orléans" (29), "Cirque d'Hiver" (32), "Florida" (33), "Jerónimo's House" (35)
  3. poems about sleeping and morning: "Love Lies Sleeping" (18), "A Miracle for Breakfast" (20), "The Unbeliever" (24), "Paris, 7 A.M." (28), "Sleeping on the Ceiling" (30), "Sleeping Standing Up" (31), "Roosters" (36)
  4. poems about dusk, dreaming, and death: "The Weed" (22), "Late Air" (45), "Cootchie" (46), "Songs for a Colored Singer" (47)

  5. poems about poetry, art, and creativity: "Casabianca" (7), "The Man-Moth" (16), "The Monument" (25)

Here are the discussion questions:

  1. What idea(s) and theme(s) recur through the collection of your group's assigned poems?
  2. What poem best represents the recurring theme of this collection and why?
  3. How might "The Map" (5) and "Anaphora" (52) function as bookends, i.e., an introduction and conclusion to the idea(s) and theme(s) of your collection of poems as well as the book North & South?

2. Maximus at a Minimum

On our first day of discussion, we took a broad view of Charles Olson's The Maximus Poems, discussing projective verse, history and allusions. Today, let's break into groups to do close (but not too close) readings of significant passages and then share our interpretations with the rest of the class. Here are the groups:

  1. 14, 17, 21-2
  2. 30, 32, 47-8
  3. 51, 66
  4. 75, 77
  5. 91-2, 118

3. A Coney Island of The Green Wall

The contrast between Tuesday's book (Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind) and Thursday's book (James Wright's The Green Wall) is so severe, we must comment upon it. We'll use that discussion to transition into Wright's affect, poetics, and world view. Additionally, we'll use this an opportunity to hear more voices in the class and practice the kind of analysis expected in the undergraduate exam. Break into four groups, discuss the group's assigned topic, and have the secretary report back to the class.

Presentation Schedule

Undergraduate students sign up for two slots: 1) a discussion board response due on the Sunday before the date the poet is scheduled to be discussed and informally presented and 2) a close reading paper and presentation cowritten with a partner both due on the scheduled date.


Graduate students sign up for one slot: 1) an in class presentation and accompanying annotated bibliography both due on the scheduled date.


Written Date Presentation Date Assignment Student
S, 1-18
R, 1-22

Olson Response

R1 Shelby Smith
T, 1-27
T, 1-27

Olson Close Reading

T, 1-27

Olson Presentation

S, 1-25
R, 1-29

Lowell Response

R2 Alexandra Campos
T, 2-3
T, 2-3

Lowell Close Reading

T, 2-3

Lowell Presentation

S, 2-1
R, 2-5

Ferlinghetti Response

T, 2-10
T, 2-10

Ferlinghetti Close Reading

T, 2-10

Ferlinghetti Presentation

S, 2-8
R, 2-12

Wright Response

R4 Leslie Peterson
T, 2-17
T, 2-17

Wright Close Reading

C4 Marykate Malena
C4 Connor Tolbert
T, 2-17

Wright Presentation

S, 2-15
R, 2-19

Ginsberg Response

R5 Greta Pritchett
T, 2-24
T, 2-24

Ginsberg Close Reading

C5 Sarah Sisson
C5 Dylan Sartain
T, 2-24

Ginsberg Presentation

S, 3-1
T, 3-3

Sexton Response

R6 Marley Brasher
R, 3-5
R, 3-5

Sexton Close Reading

C6 Kalae White
C6 Cassandra Alligood
R, 3-5

Sexton Presentation

P6 Tess Lyle
S, 3-8
T, 3-10

Kinnell Response

R7 Tina Ng
R, 3-12
R, 3-12

Kinnell Close Reading

C7 Marley Brasher
C7 Alexendra Campos
R, 3-12

Kinnell Presentation

S, 3-29
T, 3-31

Harper Response

R8 Cassandra Alligood
R9 Kalae White
S, 3-29
R, 4-2

Bukowski Response

R10 Stevie Jacobson / Sarah Sisson
T, 4-7
T, 4-7

Bukowski Close Reading

C8 Razi Shadmehry
C8 Tina Ng
T, 4-7

Bukowski Presentation

P8 Catherine Bowlin
S, 4-5
R, 4-9

Dorn Response

R11 Razi Shadmehry
T, 4-14
T, 4-14

Dorn Close Reading

C9 Stevie Jacobson
C9 Greta Pritchett
T, 4-14

Dorn Presentation

P9 Kalae White (Response)
S, 4-12
R, 4-16

Rich Response

R12 Dylan Sartain
T, 4-21
T, 4-21

Rich Close Reading

C10 Leslie Peterson
C10 Shelby Smith
T, 4-21

Rich Presentation

P10 Emily Mixon
S, 4-19
R, 4-23

Sanchez Response

R13 Connor Tolbert
S, 4-26
T, 4-28

Sanchez Response

R13 Marykate Malena


In the 3-4 page response paper, you will react to a poet in general and then focus on one poem in particular. What issues do the poet and poem raise, and what do you think about those ideas? What is the poem saying to you, and what do you reply? What questions do you have for and about the poet and the poem?


In class, you will informally present your response paper (without simply reading it), read the poem aloud in class, and broach questions for class discussion.


Sign up here. Please confer with your classmates doing the close reading paper in order to select different poems.


Close Reading Paper and Presentation

You will collaborate with a classmate to to analyze a poem (or brief section of a long poem) in a formal 5-6 page paper and formal 5-7 minute presentation not including reading the passage aloud. Your essay and presentation should 1) do a line-by-line examination, interpreting its (for example, but not limited to) figurative language, diction, connotation, and symbol, and 2) arguing the poem's centrality to understanding the core conflicts and overall theme of the book of poetry from which it comes. Your essay should be driven by a thesis that argues the poem's theme and logically organized by close reading of the text: unpack the tension and conflict, connotation and diction, idea and theme. Your well-organized presentation should clearly convey your ideas to the class, and each member should speak during the presentation.


Sign up here. Please confer with your classmates doing the response paper in order to select different poems.



Undergraduates will take an in-class exam composed of 2 comparison/contrast essays selected from a set of 4-6 questions. We will generate topics as a class on Tuesday, February 17 and I will create 4-6 questions from those topics for the exam on Thursday, February 26.

Poets and Book

Elizabeth Bishop, North & South (1946)

Charles Olson, The Maximus Poems, Part I (1956)

Robert Lowell, Life Studies (1959)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)

James Wright, The Green Wall (1957)

Allen Ginsberg, Reality Sandwiches (1963) / Reality Sandwiches: Europe! Europe! (1957-1959)



You may bring clean print outs or photocopies of two poems from each poet's book. Do not use a poet's work in more than one essay. Not all poets' works are appropriate for all essays. Choose works which afford adequate material to address the question at hand. Have a controlling idea, an interpretation, a thesis that bridges the works. Organize essays by argument and analysis. Make connections and distinctions among the poets and their poems; compare and contrast the works' key ideas. Support your points with textual evidence; avoid plot summary. You will be graded on your interpretive understanding of the poetry as well as your ability to compare and contrast meanings and issues.

Wild Card

While the close reading paper and presentation compels undergraduate students to collaborate on a line-by-line explication of a particular poem, and while the annotated bibliography and presentation obliges graduate students to research and teach a poet, the wild card paper affords all students a variety of interpretive options. Choose one of the alternative assignments below, keeping in mind that your poet must be included on the syllabus before March 12 and you can not repeat your poet selection in the research paper.


Research Paper

While the wild card paper allowed you to pursue poetic themes, influences, or responses through close attention to the text itself, the research paper merges analysis with research. Investigate a poem, poet, or poetic issue or problem in postwar American poetry selected by you (but not one you did your close reading or wild card paper on) and approved by the professor by April 21, and then compose an essay that proves your focused and studied interpretation through both poetic analysis and scholarly research. For instance, if focusing on a poem, you could study The Maximus Poems and write an essay on Gloucester's (and America's) epic history; if focusing on a poet, you could study Charle Olson's projectectivist verse and vision as reflected in selected poetry; if a poetic issue, you could study the problem of portraying social and historical place in Olson's work. Whatever your topic, make sure it's narrow and researchable. Your thesis-driven paper should employ textual analysis and support its interpretation with scholarly criticism

Undergraduate Students

In order to outline the paper's interpretation, undergraduate students will share a 250 word informative abstract of their paper in class on Tuesday, April 28 and submit an 8-10 page research paper, which incorporates at least 5 secondary sources including both scholarly journal articles and books on Tuesday, May 5. Failure to share the abstract on Tuesday, April 28 will result in a one-third letter grade deduction on the final paper.

Graduate Students

In order to prepare for participating in academic conferences, graduate students will submit an abstract proposal and then share their work with the class as if they were presenting at a conference. Graduate students will submit a 250 word informative abstract of their paper on April 23. They will share, and answer questions about, 8-10 pages (about 15 minutes of oral delivery) of their paper in class on April 30 in a mock conference presentation. Finally, they will submit the full 12-15 page research paper, incorporating at least 5 secondary sources including both scholarly journal articles and books. Failure to submit the abstract will result in a one-third letter grade deduction; failure to share the paper in progress will result in a two-thirds letter grade deduction.


Annotated Bibliography and Presentation

Graduates students will research a poet, compose an annotated bibliography of at least 10 scholarly sources interpreting the work, and teach one of the articles on the work to the class. The citations in the annotated bibliography should be formatted to MLA style, each annotation should be approximately 100 words long, and the bibliography should conclude with a one page long explanation and evaluation of why the source was selected to be taught to the class. Sign up here.


Book Review

While the annotated bibliography and presentation required you to research, evaluate, and teach a work of scholarly criticism on a postwar literary work, the book review compels you to read and evaluate an entire book of postwar American literary criticism. After consulting with the professor on a suitable book (for instance a book from which our class is reading an excerpt, or another of your choosing), write a 8-10 page essay that summarizes the book's overall theoretical/critical claim and then evaluates the thesis and methodology. Your essay should both appreciate and interrogate the book. The GeorgiaVIEW course packet contains book reviews by Diggory, Gorick, and Lee; and you can find more examples using GALILEO.