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Innovative poetry and intro to poetry

I am teaching two sections of intro to poetry in the spring. I've taught with a lot of the Norton/Vendler/Gioia anthologies (etc.) in the past and I am very tired of them.

I was thinking of just using five books of contemporary poetry. It is a general education class. They don't need to know the canon (if anyone does). It's not really a survey class. There's usually about 40 students per section and most are just trying to get their lit credit out of the way.

One problem I've had with using individual collections of stories or poems is getting the books on time. Since the books are almost always published by a small press, it seems to take over half of the semester for 80 copies of each book to show up at the bookstore.

An anthology is certainly a lot easier. There's never a problem with ordering. The university bookstore seems to have a very fast pipeline to college textbook companies. Within days there's hundreds of copies.

The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry or a world poetry anthology might be worth a look.

I've got to find it interesting.
I can't teach something I don't feel
It just doesn't
work (or I don't work,
as in function,
in every sense of the word).


Ken Rumble said…

My friend, do I have the book (or books) for you? Why yes I do. There's a terrific two volume set put out by the University of California Press

called _Poems for the Millenium: Volumes 1 & 2_. It's edited by Jerome Rothenberg & Pierre Joris. Great collection of 20th century poetry from all over the world with an emphasis on avant movements:

Since it's UC Press, they're sure to be able to get them fairly easily. I'm teaching volume two in a grammar class of all things; it's going quite well actually.

chris said…
I second that!--the Rothenberg/Joris anthology is fantastic. Go with it, if at all possible--I'll be waiting to hear/read how it goes--I haven't used it myself yet.

Hoping all's going well your way!

chris m
postpran said…
Thanks guys. I've wanted to check out this anthology for a while. It's a great price for the students (compared to the Norton anthologies). I could even add an individual collection since the anthologies are priced well. Maybe Harryette Mullen's _Sleeping with the Dictionary_

Thanks again for the suggestion. Ken, that's amazing your using it for a grammar class. Sounds very interesting.
Anonymous said…
I'm confused as to your dilemma. Why do you have to use books for your class? Even us creative writers have to bow down to the internet---doesn't your library have an online classroom database for you to post the readings? Just post copies of the poems you dig hard HARD on...I do...if not online, make them a packet. It's just poems, so there's not so much copying involved.

Hell, even if you can't post them through your library, you can put the class's poems on your blog and make them download them that way. Books suck---no editor at this date is actually globalized--making your own collection is so much more postcolonial, right?

postpran said…

good point about the internet. I was thinking of creating a blog for the class and posting articles, poems etc. to create informal discussions. I think I would like a little of both (internet and paper based). I enjoy reading online but there's something about a book in hand.

In other words, I want both worlds.
Anonymous said…

I had the same dilemma when I taught poetry whilst a grad student at the University of Florida. I *couldn't* teach anything I didn't feel, and I couldn't handle teaching one of the anthologies my department recommended.

I made my own course pack of the stuff that juiced me up and assigned 3 different books for students. Most of my students were taking poetry as a form of stress relief from their other classes (I had a freakish amount of computer programming, environmental engineering, and physics majors in my sections), and my class was an elective. They didn't need to know the canon, and the UF faculty (William Logan in particular) would certainly teach it to anyone who entered the advanced classes.

Have fun with your books! Is a course pack, instead of a regular text, a possibility? It would give you *so* much freedom if it is...

I hope you are well. I remember you from the speakeasy days...

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