Goal of this Course

I am not inclined to say that anything is impossible – but covering “American Poetry” from the beginnings of our nation to today is pretty darn close! So, this course is not comprehensive and it is somewhat necessarily focused on many of the better known poets of the United States (though I try to include some “not so well known” folks when I can). We will certainly skip many, many, many great and wonderful poets – poets you may feel are essential to any course about American Poetry. So, I begin by apologizing to you – in most cases, you can guess it was probably as hard on me to cut them as it was for you to see they were not here.

All this being said, I do look forward to a wonderful semester of getting to know many of the brightest stars in the American poetic pantheon. Our course will revolve around a close look and continual comparison with two major poets – Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. These two poets could not be more different, but both have had an enormous effect on every poet after them. Ultimately, it is my hope that you walk out of this class with a desire to read more poetry and maybe even write some. If you can recognize some verses or poets, well, that’s icing on the cake.

Primary Text

Isip, J.D. Seasons: A Poetry Handbook


American Poetry Syllabus


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