Poetry

Brenda Hillman and Matthew Zapruder are the core poetry faculty members. Students also study with at least one Visiting Poet a year, and have the opportunity to meet with editors from literary journals and presses. 

The SMC MFA program welcomes all writers and genres of writing. We embrace aesthetic diversity and believe our program is made stronger by its inclusion of all peoples. If you are applying from outside of the United States, visit our International Writers page.

 

2017-2018 Distinguished Visiting Writer in Residence in Poetry: Brynn Saito

 

POETRY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS & SAMPLE SYLLABI

Workshop:

The primary aim of this course is to allow the students as much freedom as possible in their writing while teaching them the skills to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The most important work for the student will be to locate his or her style or voice, with encouragement to produce at least one new poem per week. By the end of the course, the students should develop the terminology and the critical skills for revising poetry, and should develop a good understanding about issues and trends in the genre. Students may also be encouraged to write a poetic statement in which they will analyze their own poems—with particular attention to their development over the semester.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • produce a significant amount of original work;
  • learn through the practice of reading, annotating, and discussing the work of their peers;
  • develop the vocabulary and critical skills necessary for revising poetry.

Tutorial:

Students will meet over the course of the semester at mutually agreed upon times with the instructor of the workshop for individual sessions to review strengths and areas for revision of manuscripts. The instructor will suggest additional reading, ideas for revision, writing exercises, and specific areas where a student might improve his or her craft.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • move toward a sophisticated knowledge of revision and the craft of poetry applicable to the participation in workshop;
  • gain a greater understanding of their own strengths and areas for improvement;
  • receive advice and instruction on the professional aspects of publishing.

Contemporary Poetry:

This course will examine a variety of different trends in contemporary poetry and enable students to distinguish between some of the most important voices. The course is likely to explore the relations between contemporary poets and some of their precursors with an eye toward how these writers have affected such post-World War II movements as the confessional school, the Beats, open field, the New York School, the Black Arts Movement, and the Language poets. It will also consider the poetry of the present day in which there is far less of a consensus as to which poets, trends, or schools are central.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • read contemporary poetry as poets, analyzing the variety of movements, aesthetic trends and techniques important to poetry in recent decades;
  • study the historical and cultural context of the poetry at hand;
  • connect contemporary trends with earlier texts, particularly the literature of the modernist period;
  • relate contemporary poetry to its professional context, attending to publishing markets and other trends in the field.

Craft Courses:

These courses focus on issues that influence the writing of poetry. Some seminars may focus on issues of craft or aesthetics—figuration, the line, or open field theory—and others will be thematic in nature—politics and poetics, revolution and poetics, psychoanalysis and surrealism, nature poetics, etc. Readings may include a wide range of poetry from diverse sources and historical periods as well as the students' own works-in-progress.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • read poetry with attention to the particular craft in question;
  • create original poetry within the described parameters of the seminar, using the seminar’s theme as a means for practice and experimentation;
  • relate the particular theme/craft of the seminar to their own work and to the practice of writing poetry in our time.

Students may:

  • read secondary texts or texts outside of the genre (e.g., texts in fiction, literary theory, history, or philosophy);
  • workshop and/or share original work in class.