Select any two poems from the poets I listed in the Announcement or Course Documents. Explain what intellectual, moral or cultural value or wisdom you think the poems have. To do so, find out what you can about the poets - it is difficult and unwise to try to understand and interpret without first building up some context. Write at least 500 words. Also, once impressions start coming in, respond to at least two other students' impressions in a thoughtful way, making sure to read the poems they interprete
Carl Dennis – our middle class lives exposed, its quiet beauty and surprises, its lonely miseries and boredoms, accessible and philosophical.
Jennifer L. Knox – the title of one of her books is Drunk By Noon. What else to say about her bitching, moaning style of writing? Funny and not so funny when you’re throwing up by 2pm.
Philip Levine - "wisdom" poetry about work, labor, and how to live and what to do in this our iron age. Tough old geezer – you gotta love the dude. Just died in 2015. Miss him badly.
Rafael Campo – medical doctor and teacher who writes about his experiences as a gay man and medical doctor (but not at the same time – o you know what I mean).
Naomi Shihab Nye - tender poems about family and love, philosophical and political ones regarding the fate of her Palestinian heritage.
Robert Pinsky - beautifully crafted, elegant and erudite poems about many aspects of American life, its politics, attitudes towards sex, family and religion.
John Ashbery - an inventor of postmodern poetry, and as funny, strange and obscure as our current life tends to be. Don’t expect his poetry to make sense and you’ll do fine. Just like life!
Natasha Trethewey - the current US Poet laureate writes poems about memory and racial aspects of family and self.
Wendell Berry - great poet of nature, elderly now and still as always very wise and accessible;
a farmer too. He’s got more life wisdom than entire generations of people. Shut up and listen already.
Rita Dove - very successful poet who writes about American history current and past mostly from the perspective of race and gender.
Robert Creeley - important influential poet who recently died, founder of the so-called Black Mountain school, writer about love and death after the loss of nature.
Carol Frost - poet who writes about various themes but mostly relations of humans, animals and insects. She reminds us how we live where we eat, sleep, make love and poop, not in that order necessarily.
Gary Snyder - elder statesman of American poetry, environmental activist, Zen-trained master of meditations upon the fate of nature and mankind. Nature poet who believes in no nature.
Marie Howe - current poet laureate of New York State writes in a fairly accessible style about a range of things but usually human love relations inside and outside the family.
Sandra Beasley - writer of zany but enjoyable poems musical to the ear and stimulating of thought. Tough cookie but witty as hell.
Alice Notley - prolific poet who writes crazy but carefully crafted provocations about sex, love, death and growing up in America. Her poems are more sober than she is, I suspect. Enjoy the ride.
Stanley Kunitz - a great activist for poetry in America, helper of many writers and poets; writes quiet, deep poems about family and self.
W. S. Merwin - poet of many styles and topics with an abiding focus on death, beauty, and human relations with the natural world.
Maxine Kumin - animals dominant her work but her range is fairly wide as her political engagement to a more just America is deep.
C. K. Williams - writes philosophical poems reflecting on growing up in America amidst its materialism, industries and diverse landscapes and people.
Major Jackson - writes different types of poems, from poems exploring sports culture to space voyage, making love and witnessing addiction. He does not feel the need to write all the time about the fact that he’s black. He’s over it. Are you?
Mary Oliver - this most popular of all modern poets based on number of sales of books writes poems often spoken by a lone self in a nature setting. Her poems inspire and never hurt anyone’s feelings.
Bob Hicok - witty, even a bit crazy but highly social, funny poems about serious things. Sounds like he either doesn’t give a damn or cares too much about everything. Can it be both?
Galway Kinnell - intense, honest reflections on love, marriage, technology, family and nature.
Kimiko Hahn - writes poems about different ways humanity relates to the animal and insect kingdom, intensely committed to her Japanese heritage.
Terrance Hayes - writes poems about racial and moral conflict, about how people pretend they can just watch and are not part of the scene though we all are responsible for what happens in America.
Lucia Perillo - writes poems about funny interactions of man and beast, man and woman and about how it feels to be handicapped.
Mark Doty - poems about nature, art, gender, sexuality in different forms, the pursuit of beauty - lives on Long Island now. Loves his dogs a lot.
Yousef Komunyakaa - poems about all aspects of racial and political identity, as well as his Vietnam war experiences.
Stephen Dunne - confessional poems meditating on everyday life. Now a tough old white dude but very sane.
C. D. Wright - writes poems often using collage technique about music, dance, love and friendship.
Dick Allen - wisdom poems about what to do and how to live, often funny. Likes to throw stuff together as if a tire iron and sneakers should go in a clothes dryer together.
Albert Goldbarth - high flying poems ranging all over the place, from science to history to sex, sometimes all at once.
J. Allyn Rosser - formal poems about not so funny sad things. Really well written poems I am jealous over.
Alicia E. Stallings - rhyming poems about the imagination and about becoming an adult. Hooked on classical literature – what would you expect of a person born in Athens, Georgia, who lives now in Athens, Greece?
Robert Hass - philosophical poems written in everyday language.
Billy Collins - charming poems in simple language with hidden meanings and depth. Ha ha, keep laughing - Billy has sold a lot a lot a lot of books.
Sharon Olds - intense, explicit, powerful poems about her own life and family. Will say surprising things about her family like describing like her father’s limp penis. That is surprising, no?
Adrienne Rich - wisdom poems exploring the political implications of human relations.
Mark Strand - laid-back though form-following poems of great irony and wit, often informed by modern art.
Dean Young - great playful sense of language often funny but in a sad way.
Tony Hoagland - a lot of ironic poems about guy issues, about what it means to be a man in the 21st century. Thinks he’s cool and he probably is.
Denise Duhamel - very funny, well-crafted poems often about topics more relevant to women than men. She doesn’t take herself seriously, thank goodness.
Marvin Bell - writes Zen-like poems as if he were a dead man looking back at life. Fascinating.
David Ferry - important translator of ancient and classical poetry and a very fine poet in his own right - accessible, musical and very wise poems.
Charles Simic - surrealistic, witty poems in simple language; gets a person thinking about everyday life and its objects.
Kimberly Johnson - pensive formal poems of praise seeking God beyond metaphor. She’s a Mormon living in Utah. Friend of mine but I’m not sure why.
Charles Wright - lifelong writer of elegies hiding from, denying a need for and yet seeking redemption. Laughs about it but he’s looking for God who is not looking back any time soon. And he knows it.
Elizabeth Spires - writes stimulating, ironic poems about fashion, consumer culture and family life. Makes fun of people too concerned about how they look or their house looks. I mean who really gives a damn?
Reginald Shepherd - recently died, wrote moving, musical poems about what it feels like to grow up black and gay in the Bronx and elsewhere in America. Tough life but a sweet, deep mind.
Molly Peacock. Funny, carefully crafted poems usually about sex and love, about orgasms and frustrations alone and with others. As if she can’t get enough or can’t remember if she had.
Anne Pierson Wiese - author of Floating City poems, her first wise and funny book, young promising poet.
Phillis Levin. Good poet who has an eye on reality and an ear for music. Friend of mine or used to be until she became more famous than me.
Stephen Dobyns - very smart and very funny. Crazy but knows it which makes for great sanity.
Sandy Longhorn - life as a family member - her book Blood Almanac. Sick and tired of being from Arkansas but loves it there too.
Kevin Young - deep but accessible poems about self-doubt, family, race, jazz, sex and the dangerous love of beauty.
Franz Wright - enigmatic, carefully written personal poems, often brief, always witty and sometimes amusing, about religious faith and despair, drug addiction and recovery, love and frustration. Wiser than most even when stoned out.
Laura Kasischke - also a novelist, she writes collage-style poems that plunge us into a view of a mind filled with all kinds of seemingly random things like a newspaper spilling its guts in a dryer.
Jorie Graham - very influential poet who has written all kinds of poems, from secular prayers to descriptions and narratives of people coming of age. One of her sentences can go on for five pages. Hang on for the ride.
Louise Gluck - her topics range from sexuality to collisions and fusions of modern and ancient worlds. Very intelligent but does not flash it to impress. Love her poetry, I confess.
David Wojahn - explores how different myths and stories from ancient and new world peoples connect and inspire modern life. One smart dude but acts like he doesn’t know it. Isn’t that refreshing right there?
Jane Hirshfield - self-professed Buddhist poet who writes beautifully crafted poems about everything, from love to nature, supermarkets to disease.
Dorianne Laux - influential, somewhat melancholy poet who writes about the moon, men, death and love.
John Yau - experimental poems about everyday concerns and issues, often expressing the alienation of life by our money-driven society.
Lawrence Raab – the language of everyday life hides more philosophy than we realize, and this poet with great humor and tact makes it come alive.
Claudine Rankine – race, gender and class make for a difficult marsh to walk through – this poet does it, to stir things up and make a path.
Kay Ryan – insightful, clever poems of short-lines, amusing and thought provoking.
John Koethe – his training as a philosopher informs his writing, with ideas and feelings simply put into clear words about happiness, life, and most of all, the impact of time on our lives.
|Due By (Pacific Time)||10/06/2015 12:00 am|
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