Wednesday, January 10, 2007

First day of the quarter

. . . was yesterday. I "quizzed" my students on their scansion abilities. They were pretty sharp (many of 'em had me before, so they remembered their lessons).

One debate they had: How do you scan the word "Viennese"?

How do YOU scan "Viennese"?


Two classes this quarter, ENG 453, which is my advanced undergraduate poetry seminar, and ENG 504, which is my graduate level seminar.

For 453, we'll be writing entirely in forms, in the following order: Sonnet, Heroic Couplet, Ballad, Pantoum, Ghazal, Villanelle, and Sestina.

I'll be using "The Making of a Poem" by Strand and Boland as my text.

Why am I teaching an advanced workshop completely in forms? Because no one else is.

For my 504 class, we'll be trying to construct a manuscript of poetry, and I'll be giving them exercises for the realization of a book. I've got grad students who need to start thinking about a thesis, so this'll jump-start the process.

Books we'll look at: "Asylum," by Quan Berry, "Poeta en San Francisco," by Barbara Jane Reyes, "Descent of Alette," by Alice Notley, "Ark" by Ronald Johnson, and "Hoops" by Major Jackson. I want to teach more books, but we're on the quarter system and I don't want to bankrupt my poor students.


Other things . . . I'm on a low sodium diet and it sucks.

Another big tree fell. This one's our neighbor's, but it fell over the road between us, blocking our driveway.

I'm up for my 2-year tenure review, so I've got to cull together everything I've done in the past two years. I've done these before at Utica, so I know the drill.

I snowed and there are about eight inches on the ground.


Anonymous said...

Ah, form. Yes I am feeling you on form. I love the idea of teaching and discussing the heroic couplet. What/who are you using for this?

And many thanks for using Poeta!

Oliver de la Paz said...

Hey BJ,

No problem at all! It won't be the last time I teach your book. I only wish there were more students taking the 504 course.

As for the heroic couplet, there's a section on the form in "The Making of a Poem," and it's fairly sizeable: pp. 121 - 134. There are several poems listed, with a few contemporary poets like Anne Finch and Thom Gunn alongside oldies like Pope and Browning.

Anonymous said...

Hi again OdlP - Yes I really like that Thom Gunn poem, and now I also have Boss Cupid to look at.

I think that the Anne Finch in this section is not the same Annie Finch, who's up in Maine.

Anyway, do let me know how it goes, teaching Poeta! Exciting!

Oliver de la Paz said...


It's the very same Annie Finch who's up in Maine. She's also written a pretty good book on form.

Anonymous said...

I'm teaching an advanced undergrad + a grad poetry workshop this semester too (plus a grad poetry of the body craft & theory class).

I'm making my undergrads experiment and innovate this semester, so that should be interesting. Usually I don't have a "theme" like that, but this group needs to shake things up.

Good luck with the review! We do them annually, and it's so time consuming.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Hey Mary,

The annual review's something I did when I taught up in Utica. I had four years worth of annual reviews. Here at WWU, we have 'em every other year, so it's not too painful.

What's the title of your advanced workshop?

Anonymous said...

My class is titled: Advanced Poetry Writing. Inspiring, isn't it? :)

But the evaluation criteria are:

craft & poetics
innovation & risk
willingness to revise

I'll have one of my MFA students in there as a teaching intern too, so it's going to be really cool.

1.75 syllabi down, one more to write. Ack! Of course I've left the hardest one for last.