Special Topics in Poetry: Race, Identity and Innovation

SPOTS AVAILABLE — Students (frosh included!) may still apply for this course until September 12, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. This workshop explores the link between racial identity and poetic innovation in work by contemporary poets of color. Experimental or avant-garde poetry in the American literary tradition has often defined itself as “impersonal,” “against expression” or “post-identity.” Unfortunately, this mindset has tended to exclude or downplay poems that engage issues of racial identity. This course explores works where poets of color have treated racial identity as a means to destabilize literary ideals of beauty, mastery and the autonomy of the text while at the same time engaging in poetic practices that subvert conceptions of identity or authenticity.

Sample reading list:

Harryette Mullen, Sleeping with the Dictionary
John Yau, Further Adventures in Monochrome
Tyehimba Jess, Olio
Monica de la Torre, Public Domain
Bhanu Kapil, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers
Evie Shockley, The New Black

Reading/Writing assignments:
Each week, students will read one assigned book of contemporary poetry. Each student will be expected to submit one poem for workshop on a weekly basis, prompted by the prior week’s reading. Each student will give at least one 20-30 minute presentation on one of the assigned books of poems. Each student will also submit one 3-4 page craft analysis of a single poem from the assigned reading. Students will revise and submit a portfolio of 5 poems as their final project.

Application required.





C01 - Monica Youn

Wednesdays, 1:30 - 3:50 pm


Monica Youn