HC 221H - Playing with Poetry

Professor: Tze-Yin Teo

4.00 Credits

  • CRN 25286: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00 - 3:50pm @ TYKE 140

"The toy," wrote the French poet of modernity Charles Baudelaire, "is the child’s earliest initiation into art." Like Baudelaire, we will ask: must poetry be about learning the rules? Is poetry confined to the formal expression of feeling? In this class, we approach poetry in the spirit of poets who worked through playful experimentation that pushed the boundaries of their time. By learning those rules and breaking them in equal measure, they created often stunning and provocative ways of interacting with their debts to literary tradition and its ethico-political structures of knowing, power, and capture.  

Students will learn the fundaments of poetics (including its associated terminology) and skills of close formal analysis through active and dynamic poetic exercises. Throughout, we imagine the poetic text as an object with which we interact—that is, we treat it as a toy and understand reading as a process of play. Through these modes of play, we build enabling habits of mind, unseat ideological patterns of thought, and guard against dogmatic impositions of thinking. Like the poets we read and transform, we will learn the rules of poetry in order to bend and break them—and in order to write something new, something better.