Comparative Literature | Topics in Literary Genres, Modes, and Forms
C611 | 1148 | Hofstadter, D


TOPIC:  Writing Structured Verse

Section meets with C400

Class Meets:  TR 2:30-3:45   BH 217

The purpose of this seminar is to expose students to forms of
verse that afford profound musical pleasure to the listening ear,
and to get students to learn to express themselves in such forms,
both old and new in style.
By virtue of being human, we are all innately susceptible to
sonic patterns; indeed, we take great pleasure in them, whether they
involve rhyme, rhythm, repetition, alliteration, parallel syntactic
structures, or other devices.  The great poets of the past -- from
Shakespeare to Dante to Goethe to Pushkin to Keats to Poe to Hugo to
Verlaine to Rostand to e. e. cummings and so on -- knew this
intimately and exploited it to the hilt. For us today, there are
always new types of pattern and new ways of exploiting old types of
pattern.
Students will be exposed to many types of structured verse by
such writers as the poets mentioned above, as well as Vikram Seth,
Vladimir Nabokov, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, John Updike,
Richard Wilbur, and others.  The idea of "performing" a piece of
poetry -- whether by reciting it from memory or by reading it aloud -
- will play a central role, and each student will be expected
to "perform" poems one or more times.  Students will also write
poems in many different forms, especially forms that they invent for
themselves, and they will perform their poetic creations for the
class.  Exploration of new types of form, pattern, or structure will
be particularly encouraged.
The key goal of the seminar is to make students aware of the
rich potential residing in the world of regular, semiregular, and
irregular patterns.

Required Texts:
John Drury:  "The Poetry Dictionary"
Timothy Steele:  "All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing"
Miller Williams:  "Patterns of Poetry"
Douglas Hofstadter:  "Le Ton beau de Marot"
Vikram Seth:  "The Golden Gate"