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In Winter 2004 Patricia will be teaching WRT 420, WRT 219, and WRT 150. Here is a sample syllabus from a past WRT 420


Writing 420: Advanced Writing Workshop (Poetry) Winter 2002

Dr. Patricia Clark
Office: 161 LSH
Office hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 10-11; also, by appointment
Office telephone: 895-3199 (leave voice mail)
Email address:

WRT 420, Section A, meets on Tuesdays from 6-8:50 in LSH 229

Course Objectives: Students will write increasingly sophisticated original poems throughout the semester, compiling a finished portfolio of work (15-20 pages of poetry); students will participate in workshop critiques and also in small groups both in class and on Blackboard; students will read poetry and discuss it, as well as discussing writing techniques and using critical terminology for poetry; students will attend readings and participate in the GVSU community of writers.

Course Texts:
Black, Ralph. Turning over the Earth (poems). Milkweed Editions.

Calbert, Cathleen. Bad Judgment (poems). Sarabande Books.

Citino, David. The Eye of the Poet. Oxford University Press.

Hugo,Richard. The Triggering Town. WW Norton.

Tall, Deborah. Summons. Sarabande Books.

Wood, Susan. Asunder. Penguin.

Attendance, participation, and reading. All are essential to your success (and ours!) in this class. Plan to complete each week's reading and writing assignment and be prepared to discuss both the text (including poems) and student poems. There is a strong correlation between reading and writing. The more poems you read, the more your own writing will flourish. And the more you will understand, appreciate, and enjoy poetry. Take the time to read additional poetry on your own, savor it, copy poems in your notebook, and I guarantee you will see results. Excessive absences (beyond one) will be grounds for a lower grade in the course; at three absences you will fail the course.

Writing. Students are expected to complete assignments for poems and to write new poems for this course. Writing is due every week. We will have a rotation of poems due for the workshop (the large group) and poems due to share with small groups. I also expect that students will keep notebooks, write drafts and do revisions, and do additional drafts of poems before they turned in to the class workshop. Other writing expectations include: weekly written comments on other students’ poems, possible quizzes in class, a short critique of a magazine or a public reading, and a final writing exercise that may be an essay, an evaluation, or a combination of both. Set aside a separate looseleaf notebook (with pockets for handouts) specifically for the writing done in this class.

Assignments/exercises for poems: In WRT 320 I gave exercises for poems, but in WRT 420 I would like to leave the generating of poems up to each of you. In other words, I am not going to give assignments. I would suggest that you consider several broad areas from which to draw ideas for poems: fixed forms (i.e., sonnet, villanelle, sestina, etc.), imitations, and written suggestions for poems in The Eye of the Poet (see especially, Komunyakaa, also Baker & Townsend).

Electronic systems & copies. We will again be using the BlackBoard (Bb 5.5) system as an electronic aid to our class. Please plan your time accordingly so that you have ready access to the GVSU system and know your log-on. Student poems for the class will be posted there (at an agreed-upon day & time) and each of you will need to log on, find the poems, print them and bring them to class (with written comments). It is not acceptable to attend class without printing the poems; if you come to class unprepared, I reserve the right to ask you to leave. The BlackBoard system will make it easy for me to post assignments, the syllabus and other materials, plus enable all of us to easily email each other. In addition, we will have web links, discussion groups, and chat and file sharing. More on this in class. The website is

The workshop. We will spend part of each class session discussing the text and reading/analyzing poems from our texts; the remaining class time (approximately 1/2) will be devoted to class critique of student poems. Protocol for the workshop includes: 1) students comment first, before instructor, 2) each person mentions positive elements first, and 3) each person has a ready list of comments at hand from "marking up" the poems during the previous days. Aim to be a lively participant in the workshop! No "free riders" accepted or wanted. We'll move quickly with our comments, but each person is asked to add her or his voice to the fray. The reward? Positive and constructive comments on your work when your poems are being discussed.

Approximate grade determination: Grades in creative writing are necessary but are sometimes not as quantitative as in some other classes. I am more interested in the progress of your writing than in the response to any one assignment. I have high expectations for the "A" student?that student has read and completed all assignments, prepared carefully for each class, assembled a collection of interesting, well-revised poems and has participated well in both small groups and the workshop, including writing detailed comments on other students’ poems as well as voicing those comments in class..

Portfolio of your poems: 50%
Written comments on poems, written
critique of a magazine or public reading 25%
Discussion and participant work,
including web discussion and chats 25%

January 8 Introduction to the class; handouts; discuss literary magazines

January 15 Hugo, Chapter 1; Billy Collins “Poetry, Pleasure, and the
Hedonist Reader” (in Citino, Chapter 1); workshop of poems

January 22 Hugo, Chapter 2; Carol Muske “What is a Poem?” (in Citino,
Chapter 2); workshop of poems

January 29 Hugo, Chapter 5; Yusef Komunyakaa “Kit & Caboodle” (in
Citino, Chapter 4; workshop of poems

February 5 Baker & Townsend “The Line/The Form/The Music” (in Citino
Chapter 3); workshop of poems

February 12 Baker & Townsend continued; workshop of poems

February 19 Group #1 leads book discussion; workshop of poems

February 26 Group #2 leads book discussion; workshop of poems

March 5 Spring break!

March 12 Group #3 leads book discussion; workshop of poems

March 19 Group #4 leads book discussion; workshop of poems

March 26 Group #5 leads book discussion; workshop of poems

April 2 Group #6 leads book discussion; workshop of poems

April 9 Magazines, websites & contemporary poetry; workshop of poems

April 16 Hugo, Chapter 9; Citino “Tell me How it Was in the Old Days”;
wrapup of the course; reading from poems

April 23 Final exam

Important dates for Winter 2002 semester:
Last day to drop a class with grade of “W”: Friday, March 1, 5 p.m.
Classes end: April 20
Concluding period: April 22-27
Graduation: April 27