English 403—Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry

Spring 2015, Hendrix College
Professor: Jessica Jacobs
Professor Email:
Office: Fausett Hall, 201B
Office Phone: (501) 336-5057
Office Hours: By appointment. I will
be on campus MW 12-2, and
afternoons on TTH.

Class Schedule: MW 10:10-12:00,
Bailey Seminar Room
Readings Page Password: poetry

“The function of art is to make the grass grass and the stone stone by freeing us
from the automatism of perception.”
—Boris Eichenbaum
“A word after a word after a word is power.”—Margaret Atwood
Course Description
This course will engage your imaginative and analytical faculties through the
exploration of poetry in the primary context of three books: Rookery by Traci
Brimhall, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, and The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert.
We will into individual poems and take a wide-view to see the collection as a whole.
And from these texts, you will take inspiration and guidance for the poems you will
write this semester, for much of the work we study will be written by you. In this
reading/writing balance, you will be expected to take what you learn from the
enjoyment, analysis, and criticism of the work of established poets, as well as that
of your peers, and apply those observations and techniques to further your own
As a member of this poetry workshop, you will be part
community. Just as in every community, respect for others is
expected to respond to poems—even those with which
comfortable in terms of their subject matter, political views, or
mature, thoughtful, and supportive manner.

of a close creative
essential. You will be
you might not be
religious beliefs—in a

Learning Goals
The goals of this course are
1. to teach you the basic components and craft of reading and writing poetry;
2. to strengthen your ability to look at a poetry collection as a complexly
organized and interrelated whole; encourage you in the habit and practice of
poetry writing; and
3. to guide you in the evaluation of poems—your own and others’—with both
sensitivity and rigor.
Required Materials
 Rookery. Traci Brimhall. (978-0809329977)
 Autobiography of Red. Anne Carson. (978-0375701290)

 The Great Fires. Jack Gilbert. (978-0679747673)
 Poems and craft essays from the coursesite.
 A three-ringed binder in which to organize your poems and drafts, as well as
house the course readings.
 A notebook devoted to writing exercises and drafts.
**Unless an electronic text is needed for a disability accommodation, students are
required to have physical copies of these texts (as opposed to eBook versions or
PDFs, etc.). This will allow you to more actively interact with the texts through
marking favorite (or least favorite) passages, and talking back to the text through
your marginalia—all of which will help you in both class discussions and when you
return to the texts. All books are available at Village Books and at a steeply
discounted price online. Rental books can be written in.
Class Participation: Class participation is mandatory. Attendance and tardiness will
be reflected in your class participation grade, which also includes
active participation in class activities.
Please remember that there is no such thing as neutral silence
in a group discussion. Over time, protracted silence or
nonparticipation can register as indifference, or worse, deliberate
withholding to the group’s other members. This impression, no
matter how unintended, has the tendency to chill discussion and limit
conversation to only the most outgoing of students. Conversely, when
many voices participate in discussion, students often feel it easier to
join in. It is my fervent wish that everyone participate actively in our
Participating in a discussion is a skill that can, and should, be
learned. If you are having difficulty getting a word in edgewise in our
conversations, or if talking in class terrifies you (you’re not the only
one), you should consult with me in office hours about strategies that
will help you participate.
 Each student will select a poem from
howapoemhappens.blogspot.com and present the poem and the poet
to the class. I suggest you spend some time looking around on the
site and finding a poem that speaks to your taste. An interview with
the poet about the poem is included, as well as a link to their
professional website (if they have one).
Daily Work:
 Blog comments will reward you for doing the necessary work of the
course, as well as assess those who are not as comfortable being
active in class discussion. On days for which there is a reading
assignment, comments are due posted by no later than
midnight before the relevant class (i.e. for reading we will
discuss in class on a Monday, your blog comment should be
posted before midnight on that Sunday). These comments can
pertain to the craft readings, an individual poem, or the week’s topic
as a whole.
 In-class writing exercises will lay the foundation for your poems, as
well as allow you to explore different ideas and craft techniques.

 You will be expected to attend two literary events during the
semester (though I encourage you to attend more!) and write a 1-2
page response to the reading, which should include a brief summary
of the material read, your reaction to that material, a critical reflection
of the work in terms of our in-class discussions of writing craft. A
calendar of Central Arkansas readings will be posted on the
coursesite. Though one of these events can be a student reading,
such as the Word Garden series, at least one event must be with a
professional writer.
Literary Readings You will be expected to attend two literary events during the
semester and writing a 1-2 page response to the reading, which
includes: a brief summary of the material read, your reaction to that
material, a critical reflection of the work in terms of our in-class
discussions of writing craft. A calendar of Central Arkansas readings
will be posted on the coursesite.
Complete Poems: Students will write 8 complete poems, using class discussions
and readings as a foundation for the subject matter and/or approach.
A copy of each poem must be printed and brought to class on the day
indicated by the Course Schedule indicates. Penalties will be assessed
for late work.

You will be workshopped by the entire class twice. When your group is
workshopped, you are required to bring
copies of the assigned
poem of your choice to the class before your workshop.
For workshops, you are required to bring in written feedback on the
poems being discussed. This feedback should include both line-by-line
comments and 1-2 paragraphs commenting on your observations of
and suggestions for the poem as a whole. Remember that your
comments should focus on the poem and not the poet.

Final Portfolio:
Your final portfolio will be comprised of three revised poems,
copies of the original drafts with my comments, and a letter of
reflection, which comments on how you feel you have grown as a
writer and reader of poetry during this semester, the weaknesses or
tendencies you have observed in your writing that you would like to
address, and an evaluation/explanation of the revisions done for each
of the three poems.
** A note on my feedback: You will receive feedback from me at three formal
junctures: 1) written feedback on your weekly poems, 2) verbal and written
feedback on each of your two workshopped poems, 3) verbal and written feedback
on poems you plan to revise for your portfolio during your individual conference.
However, I also encourage you to make use of my office hours, during which I will
be happy to discuss any writing exercises, poem drafts, complete non-workshopped
poems, or craft questions you might have.

Class Participation (includes attendance)
Daily Work (blog posts, in-class writing, literary event attendance)
Workshop (turning in poems on-time, peer-review feedback)
Poem Drafts (8 total poems)
Final Portfolio: Poem Revisions (3 total)



Course Policies
Attendance is required. It will be difficult for you to pass this course with more than
three unexcused absences. Your grade will be dropped by a letter grade for each
day after those three that you are absent. Therefore, six absences will result in a
failing grade (Example: If you have an A in the class and miss five classes, you will
receive a C.). Chronic tardiness also counts as an absence or absences. If you
miss class, it is your responsibility to get the reading assignments for the
following week from your fellow classmates and make up missed work. If you
do miss class, please check the coursesite for any newly posted PowerPoints or
assignments and contact your peers to learn what you missed before contacting
Laptops, phones, and other wireless devices: These are not permitted in class,
unless required for disability accommodation (see below). If you use your phone
in class, you will be counted as absent for that day.
Learning Disabilities: Any student who needs accommodation in relation to a
recognized disability should inform the instructor at the beginning of the course. In
order to receive accommodations, students with disabilities are required to contact
Julie Brown in Academic Support Services at 501-505-2954.
Email: Email will be used to contact the entire class for communicating changes to
the syllabus and other matters. Check your Hendrix account daily.
Academic Integrity: Intellectual dishonesty will not be tolerated. See the academic
integrity statement and policy in the student handbook. Frequently, failure to
document and attribute secondary sources adequately is not a deliberate attempt
to pass another’s ideas and words off as one’s own, but rather a misunderstanding
of how to give that other person sufficient credit properly. Please consult with me on
any documentation question so we can avoid problems.
Poetry Format: On all printed poems, please include your name and the date in the
upper-left-hand corner. All poems should include a title and, unless done otherwise
for deliberate effect, should be left-justified, single-spaced, and capitalized in a
normal manner (i.e. no need to center your poems and/or capitalize the first word of
every line). Please use Times New Roman, 12-point font.

understood these course policies.
Signature _____________________________

, verify that I have read and