Course title: Why Poetry?

Poetry, or verse is one of the oldest forms of literature, it is unique and versatile in both form and content?one can even think about poetry as the queerest of the literature. Despite the popular notion that poetry is dead, the genre is thriving and serves a purpose beyond literary and aesthetic pleasure, it?s a mode of communication, self expression, and activism, one that challenges the literary norms and offers a platform for many nontraditional artists. From Sappho?s love elegies to Audre Lorde?s songs of resistance, poetry has been used by marginalized individuals and communities throughout time, especially in the queer community. Queer poets have used poetry as a medium of subversion, reclaiming power, expressing desire, voicing discontent, and much more. Why? What is it about poetry that makes it a form not for a time but of all age? And more importantly, what is it about poetry that makes it a transnational and transcultural literary medium?

This course will explore the concepts of gender, sexuality, and culture through the lens of poetry specifically. How are identities (gender/sexual/cultural) constructed through poetry? How are they subverted? What role does poetry play in sanctioning and policing identities or subverting them? The course is divided into 4 units. We will begin the course by exploring the concept of ?queer poetics? and what it means by looking at the different types or forms of poetry. From there, we?ll start to learn how to read poetry. What does analyzing a poem mean? What?s close reading? How is close reading a form of queer reading? Is there a right way to read a poem? In these two units we?ll be reading Rabih Alamaddine?s Koolaids, a poetic novel in vignettes, Marianne Moore?s ?Poetry,? and a selection from the works of Audre Lorde.

An interlude unit we?ll be exploring gender and sexuality through the concept of boundaries a la Gloria Anzaldua?s La Frontera and Christopher Soto?s Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color.

In the third unit we will look at poets from the past ten years who use poetry as a form of constructing the self, such as the work of Tommy Pico, Chen Chen, Omar Sakr, K-Ming Chang, Noor Jaber, and others. We will focus on the nuances of gender and sexuality that one can explore only in poetry. We?ll end the semester with a writing unit where students will take all that they?ve learned and experienced during the semester and write their own poems.

You do not need any experience with poetry to be in this class. This is a beginners course with no prerequisites, designed even for those who dislike poetry or are afraid of it.