English 4446/5446 Modern Poetry, Spring 2015

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


Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours:

MW 2:00-3:15PM Arts & Sciences 330

and by appointment



Course Description


The course catalog describes our course as "A study of selected modern poetry in English." This section will focus on American poetry from 1945-1985 and study such groups and movements as the San Francisco Renaissance, the Beat Generation, the Black Mountain poets, Projective Verse, Confessionalism, and the Black Arts Movement.


This course's Academic Assessment page, amended by unanimous departmental vote on 9 March 2012 and awaiting electronic update, describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

Note that this course's prerequisite is English 2110, IDST 2305, or permission of the instructor.


Course Materials


required (GCSU Bookstore or Amazon)

Bishop, Poems — North & South (1946) in Poems (2011)

Bukowski, Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1974)

Ginsberg, Reality Sandwiches (1963)

Kinnell, Body Rags (1968) in Three Books (2002)

Lowell, Life Studies (1959)

Rich, The Dream of a Common Language (1978)

Sanchez, Homegirls and Handgrenades (1984)

required (American Poetry 2 in GALILEO, Amazon, or Course Packet)

Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)

Dorn, Gunslinger (1974)

Harper, Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970)

Olson, The Maximus Poems (1956)

Sexton, Live or Die (1966) in The Complete Poems (1981)

Wright, The Green Wall (1957) in Above the River: Collected Poems (1990)

recommended (GCSU Bookstore or Amazon)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook, 7th ed.

recommended websites


Poetry Foundation


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4446 Undergraduate Students


response, 5%

In the 3-4 page response paper, you will react to a poem, read the poem aloud in class, and broach questions for class discussion.

close reading, 10%

You will pair up to write a 5-6 page close reading paper and to give a 5-7 minute presentation analyzing a short poem.

exam, 25%

In the in class exam, you will answer two or three essay questions.

wild card, 25%

In the 6-8 page wild card paper, you will either interpret the theme of a book of poetry, analyze how a postwar poet is influenced by a modernist poet, analyze how a postwar poet influences a poet writing today, or examine how two postwar poets respond to one another.

research paper, 35%

In the 8-10 page research paper, you will research a poem, poet, or poetic issue. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


5446 Graduate Students


annotated bibliography and presentation, 15%

You will sign up to compile an annotated bibliography of an assigned poet/book and teach the class the best scholarly article found.

book review, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will summarize and evaluate, appreciate and interrogate, a critical book on postwar poetry.

wild card, 25%

In the 8-10 page wild card paper, you will either closely read a poem, interpret the theme of a book of poetry, analyze how a postwar poet is influenced by a modernist poet, analyze how a postwar poet influences a poet writing today, or examine how two postwar poets respond to one another.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper exploring a key issue or theme in a work of postwar poetry and present your work-in-progress to the class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


Course Policies


We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and electronic course reserves. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Spideroak to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will fail the course. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include family emergency, medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition or an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. The university class attendance policy can be found here. You can check your attendance here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. In-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ MLA style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length (not including Works Cited page) while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a additional one-third letter grade penalty. It is your responsibility to learn how to control your word-processing program. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the FAQ handout and using the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within a five days of its due date will result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." The submission of another's work as one's own is plagiarism and will be dealt with using the procedures outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. Allowing another student to copy one’s own work is considered cheating; and submitting the same paper in two classes (recycling or double-dipping) is dishonest. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Here is how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Passing or Failing of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: failing to regularly attend class, plagiarizing, failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Library 228, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Additional Policies

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, and Fire Drills can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1
T, 1-13


Bishop, "The Map"

R, 1-15

Bishop, Poems — North & South (1946) in Poems (2011)

Cusatis, "Postwar Literature 1945-1970"

Hendin, "Introducing American Literature and Culture in the Postwar Years"

Recommended: Bishop at the Poetry Foundation

Week 2
T, 1-20

Bishop, continued

Beach, "The Confessional Moment"

Moramarco and Sullivan, "New Maps for American Poetry"

In Class Activity: Mapping Bishop's North & South

R, 1-22

Olson, The Maximus Poems, Part I (1956)

Olson, "Projective Verse"

Recommended: Olson at the Poetry Foundation

Week 3
T, 1-27

Olson, continued

Scroggins, "Coming Down from Black Mountain"

In Class Activity: Maximus at a Minimum

R, 1-29

Lowell, Life Studies (1959)

Recommended: Lowell at the Poetry Foundation

Week 4
T, 2-3

Lowell, continued

R, 2-5

Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)

French, "The Wild Beasts of North Beach" and "Beatniks and Beatitude"

Recommended: Ferlinghetti at the Poetry Foundation

Week 5
T, 2-10

Ferlinghetti, continued

R, 2-12

Wright, The Green Wall (1957)

Recommended: Wright at the Poetry Foundation

In Class Activity: A Coney Island of the Green Wall

Week 6

T, 2-17

Wright, continued

R, 2-19

Ginsberg, Reality Sandwiches (1963)

Johnston, "Consumption, Addiction, Vision, Energy: Political Economies and Utopian Visions in the Writings of the Beat Generation"

Recommended: Ginsberg at the Poetry Foundation

Week 7

T, 2-24

Ginsberg, continued

Recommended: Ginsberg at PennSound

R, 2-26

Exam (Undergraduates Only)

Book Review Due (Graduate Students Only)

Week 8
T, 3-3

Sexton, Live or Die (1966)

Hoffman, "Impersonal Personalism: The Making of a Confessional Poetic"

Recommended: Sexton at the Poetry Foundation

R, 3-5

Sexton, continued

Gill, "Anne Sexton and Confessional Poetics"

Week 9
T, 3-10

Kinnell, Body Rags (1968)

Recommended: Kinnell at the Poetry Foundation

Recommended: Kinnell, "The Bear"

R, 3-12

Kinnell, continued

Week 10
T, 3-17

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-19

No Class: Spring Break

Week 11
T, 3-24

Writing Day: Bring your Laptops

R, 3-26

Wild Card Paper Due

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 12
T, 3-31

Harper, Dear John, Dear Coltrane (1970)

Harper, "The Map and the Territory: An Interview with Michael S. Harper"

Recommended: Harper at the Poetry Foundation and "Dear John, Dear Coltrane"

R, 4-2

Bukowski, Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (Poems 1972-1973) (1974)

Recommended: Bukowski at the Poetry Foundation and Last Poetry Reading

Week 13
T, 4-7

Bukowski, continued

Esterly, "The Pock-Marked Poetry of Charles Bukowski: Notes of a Dirty Old Mankind"

R, 4-9

Dorn, Gunslinger (1974)

Recommended: Dorn Introduction at Jacket Magazine and Gunslinger Reading at PennSound

Week 14
T, 4-14

Dorn, continued

R, 4-16

Rich, The Dream of a Common Language (1978)

Rich, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision"

Recommended: Rich at the Poetry Foundation

Week 15
T, 4-21

Rich, continued

Sheridan, "Adrienne Rich and the Women's Liberation Movement: A Politics of Reception"

R, 4-23

Sanchez, Homegirls and Handgrenades (1984)

Harper, "Nationalism and Social Division in Black Arts Poetry of the 1960s"

Recommended: Sanchez at the Poetry Foundation, YouTube 1, and YouTube 2

Graduate Abstracts Due

Week 16
T, 4-28

Sanchez, continued

Undergraduate Abstracts Due

R, 4-30

Graduate Research-in-Progress Due

T, 5-5

Research Paper Due