There are three writing activities in this course: blog posts, commentaries, an anthology.

Blog Posts Before every class meeting you will circulate a blog post. These posts need to be thoughtful and generative in nature. Consider the following modes of inquiry:

-summary, restatement, and clarification
-examples from the text or texts
-connecting to other texts, contexts, discussions, ideas
-posing surprising questions or asking for comments or reactions
-commenting on or negotiating opinions or readings of a text
-making suggestions or asking for clarification
-reacting to, analyzing, a text, a blog comment, or arc of discussion
-reframing or reorienting or restarting the discussion
-negotiating or arguing or mediating positions in an argument
-furnishing new information

We will practice writing these blog posts and responding to the ideas they present and we will learn from that practice new ways to write in more interesting and engaging ways. Please post these on the home page of your blog.

Commentaries You will write three commentaries on three poems during weeks 1-4 of the course. The commentaries will be on poems that you consider significant, poems that you would like to spend time with, learn from, and share with readers. Please publish the commentaries on your “Commentaries” page.

There is an art to writing in a received form, whether a sonnet, a narrative fiction, or a commentary. You have a responsibility as a writer and contributing editor to communicate relevant information to a reader. The commentaries will be composed using the template below.

Paragraph 1: Text and Context Historical and factual information

1. textual information

  • texts have histories (manuscripts, versions, editions) that may be relevant
  • texts first appeared where (date and location) and then in book form
  • poem (verse) structure: lyric, narrative, dramatic
  1. contextual information (relevant to poem)
  •  biographical
  • social/cultural
  • the poem in the arc of the poet’s career

Most first paragraphs will end in a transitional summary sentence to continue the commentary

Paragraph 2: Summary of the poem Descriptive account of form and content

  • relevant details of poem structure (octave/sestet, narrative book-length poem, etc.)
  • relation of poem to other poems or texts
  • relation of poem to social or cultural or historical context(s)
  • relevant summary of poetic features (language, imagery)
  • relevant lines, phrases, words quoted as evidence

Paragraph 3: Critical reception of poem Tradition of commentary and conversation about the poem. This is the section in which you will account for the received interpretation (hermeneutics) of the poem.

  • How was the poem received by contemporaries?
  • How has the poem been read by readers since its publication?
  • Are there critical debates or different ways of reading the poem?
  • How does the poem fit into a literary tradition?

Paragraph 4: Conclusion Informed comment about the significance and/or interest of the poem

We will discuss the commentaries and look at examples of work together during weeks one and two of the summer session.

When you have completed the commentaries I will consider them for publication on the web site American Poetry and Poetics. You will develop and revise your commentaries with feedback from me and other members of the class. You will then submit them to the editor of the web site who will determine whether the commentary is worthy of publication. The commentary will then be copy edited and you will receive page proofs before the commentary is published on the web site. This site is designed for readers of poetry and is a public resource for readers of poetry. You will receive credit as a contributing editor on the site.

Anthology Project Your anthology project will be your case study of work in ecopoetics. It will include a body of work (poems) as well as interesting and relevant prose statements about poetry and poetics, gathered from our class readings, or the readings available in the Mason Library or on the Web.

Your anthology will include

  • A 5-10 page introductory essay
  • A collection of poems that exemplify the ecopoetic project
  • A Works Cited or List of Further Reading (use MLA format)

The anthology–from the Gr. Anthologia, a flower gathering, garland. Anthologos: anthos, flowers + legein, to gather, as in a collection of poems or stories–should be conceived as an actual publication, a collection of poems and/or poetic statements that together exemplify the significance of the collection. It may be helpful for you to think about the anthology pedagogically, or as a field guide to poetic making and the ecological thought. That is, the anthology should be rhetorically conceived so that someone who knows little about the subject (author or authors) might use it as a place to begin.

The successful introduction will

  • define ecopoetics as a conceptual space that brings together the making of poems and thinking about things in relationship—about interaction and interconnectedness, pattern and process
  • place ecopoetics in the social and cultural and historical system of which it is a part
  • provide a critical (interpretive) discussion of poetic form using the poems included in the anthology

The anthology will be presented on your blog. I encourage you to make use of other relevant textual materials; link to digital texts, resources, and archives; and include illustrations and/or images.


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