Jeremy C. Justus, Reading Poetry, Fall 2016

Course Description:

This section of Reading Poetry is designed to increase students’ understanding and appreciation of various types of poetry. Underlying all that we will do this semester is the basic, fundamental assumption (or, in my case, belief) that reading poetry can be an exceedingly rewarding and personally enriching endeavor. We will examine the ways in which every single world of a poem matters, and we’ll examine the ways in which words matter in our own lives. We’ll study and attempt to understand poetic form in order to better appreciate the ways in which some poets begin with advanced, deep, and complicated thoughts, perspectives, and feelings and “squeeze” those things into tight, verbal constraints. Furthermore, we’ll study the complex and intricate relationship between form and content. We’ll also discuss the significance of the absence of a strict form to understand what that approach to composing poetry offers us. We’ll repeatedly ask the questions “what is poetry, really?” and “is this (song, billboard, discarded love note, series of emotive guttural noises, etc) poetic?”

Ultimately, I believe that this can be a fun class, and one from which you might draw materials that may very well give you the words to understand some of your life’s most significant moments – from a calm, quiet moment that only you might experience through shared periods of both love and loss and, ultimately, to retrospectively appreciate the value of a life well lived. I realize that this may sound a bit idealistic, but I do truly believe that, if you approach poetry with intrigue, curiosity, and openness, you might very well come away a better person.

Required Text:

Meyer, Michael. Poetry: An Introduction. 7th edition. 2013.