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This is an intensive workshop designed for students in the mid to later stages of the MFA degree in poetry. Though close-reading will occupy some of our class time, we will emphasize assessment of each poet's direction and development. Those of you in the third year will be working toward a thesis manuscript. Those in the second year may be working on a sequence or group of related poems, or simply learning to see your poems as a body of work. In addition to your own poems, written requirements will include peer manuscript critique and analysis of the sequence and organization of two published books of poems.
Manuscripts In the course of the semester each of you will submit two manuscripts for discussion, and most nights two manuscripts will be discussed. If you are in your third year of the MFA, your first manuscript should be 8-12 pages of your thesis (or proto-thesis) which may be a single poem, a group of related poems, or a representative sampling of several aspects of the collection. If you are in your second year, you may submit 8-12 pages of a single long poem, a group of related poems, or a selection representative of your best work to date. Your second manuscript will most likely be a revision or extension of the first manuscript, though some of you may choose to submit new poems. Manuscripts must be submitted on paper, no later than the beginning of class on the meeting preceding your discussion date, and must be accompanied by a 500-1000 word statement.
read the manuscripts submitted and write a 500-1000 word
statement for each poet. Bring a second copy for me. In our first
person whose last name follows the poet’s name on the alphabetical
will initiate the discussion. and share responsibility with me for its
Late Manuscripts: Since your classmates need adequate time to read and critique your work responsibly, late manuscripts will not be accepted for discussion. If you miss your place in the schedule, you will be rescheduled as time permits.
Statements: Your first
manuscript must be accompanied by a
500-1000 word statement describing the nature and the ambition of the
included. For example, if you were submitting 12 pages of related
might state your concept for the group, what you hope it aspires to
when it is
finished, and a few words on what is not yet there. Please also
kinds of critique you are most interested in receiving—for example,
of your thematic scope, tracing of related images and concepts, formal
analysis, sequence of poems, etc. Your second manuscript statement
length) should include something about your revisions, what you think
achieved, plus an evaluation of how class critique did or did not
process. If you are specific about what you want from us, we will be
likely to deliver it. In each case, the statement is due with the
and not accepted after manuscript has been turned in.
I strongly recommend that each critique begin not with evaluation, but with description. What are the poems' predominant forms? subjects? themes? What aesthetic values do they represent? What is the concept of poetic voice? the relative weight of poem-as-speech to poem-as-artifact? Do the poems seem finished? Do they work together toward a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts? Are there untapped strengths in this poet that these poems suggest but have not developed? Your answers to these questions will determine your advice. Do these poems represent a direction that interests you as a reader? Do you recommend revision to individual poems? further development of some aspect you enjoyed here? pursuit of a different direction? a change of sequence? If you have difficulty with a group of poems, try mirroring back to the poet your reading process, pinpointing the places that cause the trouble.
All critiques must be completed in order to receive a grade for this course. And: just as manuscripts must be submitted on time to receive your critique, so your critique must be submitted on time to be of use to the poet. Each of you is allowed one late critique (up to one week late) “free”—that is, without grade penalty. Subsequent late critiques will be accepted up to one week after discussion of the manuscript with a penalty equal to a full letter grade. Critiques submitted more than one week late will not be graded; however, they must be completed and given to the poet or you will receive an Incomplete for the course. Critiques will be graded as A, B, or Unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory critiques will have to be revised to receive credit.
My power to assign grades, however, pales in comparison with the importance of your commitment to each other. The 750 workshop is potentially the most intense and important workshop you will be part of at GMU, but it only reaches that potential when everyone involved is committed to a process of intellectually rigorous but personally supportive critique. Uncivil, dismissive, or poorly thought-out, off-the-cuff critiques, whether written or oral, will poison this process.
Participation: You are expected to be present for the full
length of all
class sessions, to take part in discussion of all manuscripts, and to
analysis and discussion of a variety of poetic values and strategies.
Sept 21: No class: Fall for the Book
Sept 23: Don Bogan 699 Master Class
Oct 12: No class: Fall Break: Mon classes meet on Tues
Structure/sequence analyses due October 19 & November 16
001: Advanced Poetry Workshop
George Mason University
George Mason University
English 750:001Fall 2010
Robinson A 455A
M 3:00-4:00 &