Course Instructor Days Times Room
ENGL4800W NANCE, ANDREW M 3 :35 PM 0067


Speculative Practices: Urgency and Reckoning in Poetry

What might it mean for language in a work of literature to have, as Jorie Graham describes them, “accurate failures”? What’s the difference between “vagueness or inaccuracy” in writing and writing that gets itself into “danger legitimately so that we may be genuinely saved,” as Robert Frost wrote? In this course, our broadest aim is to increase our understanding of poetic speech by (re)investigating some fundamental questions about the poem itself as a linguistic act. Our primary thematic focal point for this class will focused on the urgency of poetic reckoning. My hypothesis is that the urgency intrinsic to what I’m calling a poem’s ‘speculative practice’ is always a kind of reckoning. But perhaps I’m wrong about that. Surely, though, this urgency takes many forms. Therefore, we will seek to explore and map these forms as much as we can—seeing if we can delineate their shapes, note their contours, their overlapping regions, their shared and unique qualities. To do this, each week we will read a book by a contemporary American poet paired with a small packet of earlier poems in order to explore such questions of urgency and reckoning within the poetry of our own moment, as well as its deeper context.

Focusing exclusively on poetry, this advanced creative writing course will be part seminar and part workshop of students’ creative work. That is, students will be writing and revising their own poems, some of which will be workshopped by the class. This process will culminate in a final portfolio of original poems. Additionally, students will be writing two short critical essays in which they will be developing their own perspective on the issue of urgency through careful analysis of poems chosen from our readings. 


Required Texts:

Ben Lerner,The Lichtenberg Figures (Copper Canyon Press, 9781619320734)
Lucie Brock-Broido, The Master Letters (Knopf, 9780307557827)
Solmaz Sharif, Look (Graywolf Press, 9781555977443)
Claudia Rankine, Citizen (Graywolf Press, 9780141981772)
Anne Boyer,Garments Against Women (Ahsahta Press, 9781934103593)
Dana Ward, The Crisis of Infinite Worlds (Futurepoem Books, 9780982279885)
Ariana Reines, Mercury (Fence Books, 9781934200476)
Juliana Spahr, That Winter the Wolf Came (Commune Editions, 9781934639177)
Graham Foust, Nightingalelessness (Flood Editions, 9780998169545)