Course Syllabus  English 2307  Beginning Creative Writing Fall 2015

Introduction to Poetry

Instructor: Lyman Grant

E-mail:  lgrant@austincc.edu  Phone:

Office                                        Office Hours:

 

Course Basics

Textbook:  None. Everything will be handled through Blackboard and Internet Links, except, you will need to purchase a book of poems by a contemporary, living writer (teacher’s approval is required). In addition, as a writer, you should accumulate a large number of references: dictionaries, thesaurus, style manuals, history of the language, poetry handbooks, memoirs and biographies of writers.

Course Description and Rationale
In this introductory course, which uses the Blackboard online system, you’ll study the principles of writing poetry. We’ll accomplish this as a group by exploring various poetic forms through both reading and writing. Our goals include improvement in the quality and maturity of literary analysis as well as sharpening of your own writing and development of your poetic voice. This, in turn, will hopefully deepen your appreciation of poetry, provide academic advancement, and help you gain confidence in pursuit of your own creative process.

Course Prerequisite
Students are required to take English 1301 before taking English 2307. No prior knowledge of poetry is required.

Online Instruction and Materials
You must have a computer, internet access, and be familiar with navigating websites (or willing to learn). The Blackboard home page, at http://itdl.austincc.edu/blackboard contains information on using this software. You’ll be using an “online textbook” to read the poems for this course. In addition, you’ll be expected to read the works of one contemporary poet (living or recently living). I’ll post a few examples online for you to consider, although you should also feel free to examine a poet whose works you admire. No anthologies; use the works of one poet.

Instructional Methodology
The course involves the reading, writing, and critical analysis of poetry along with some online peer critiques (workshop) and discussion using this feature in Blackboard.

 

Course Objectives and Outcomes

Students completing this course are expected to:

Demonstrate an understanding of what makes a good poem.

Display an understanding of the elements of poetry as well as a mastery of the vocabulary.

Become acclimated to receiving feedback and be able to offer thoughtful analysis on your classmates’ work.

Develop a portfolio of 10 original poems and supplementary material, evidencing progress in skills throughout the semester.

Note: In discussion-based classes and workshop environments, differing viewpoints and perspectives are inevitable. Respect for these differences is critical and expected. 

 

Grades

Assignments

10 poems (2 pts each)                                    20 points

5 substantial revisions (3 pts each)             15 points

Analytical Presentation                                  10 points

Poetry in Performance                                   10 points

Your Poetry Workbook                                   10 points

 

Participation

One-to-one meeting                                          5 points

Discussion board (1 pt/week)                        15 points

Literary event  (and report)                              5 points

 

Final Portfolio                                                 10 points

90 points+ = A                    70-79 points= C

80-89 points = B                 60-69 points = D

 

 

 

Assignment Types

Poems

You’ll write ten poems throughout the semester, each one relating to a particular theme or type of poem. Each week’s readings, placed online in the Course Documents Section, give you models for the types of poems you’ll be writing. For the first few weeks, we’ll look closely at the criteria for the assignments – imagery, rhythm, point-of-view, and structure – in greater detail using the work of other poets. I’ve also posted criteria for the poems in the Assignments button on the sidebar.   Submit your poems in the discussion board.  I suggest that you submit the poems as attachments in a doc or docx format.  This preserves the form and spacing. 

 

Revisions

You will be asked to revise at least five of the ten poems you write in class. There are three weeks during the class that we will devote to these revisions. (You are welcome to revise more than five of your poems.) We will take the concept of revision seriously. It will entail more than proofreading, and we hope, a studied, new look at the poem and how it goes about making its point.

 

Analytical Presentation on a Poet’s Work

You will select a book of poetry from a contemporary living poet (my approval will be necessary). You will then create a Power Point (or similar presentation about that poet and his or her book. In this presentation you will discuss a particular theme of the work, such matters as imagery, issues the poet brings up, or an unusual or consistent form. More information will follow.

 

Poetry in Performance

During the semester, you will create a presentation of your reading of one of your poems. This can be done elaborately with cameras lighting, sound effects, and the like, or with programs like FaceTime. More information will follow as the assignment becomes due.

 

Your Poetry Workbook

Each week I will assign a few practice assignments practicing basic principles of writing poetry. They could be exercises in technique, like meter or figures of speech, or they would be exercises to generate content that might fit into one of the poems you are writing or some day might write.

 

One-to-One Meeting

It is always difficult for teachers and students to get to know one another. But in a class like this we have to work together and trust each other. Therefore, we are going to take some time during the third week of class to meet each other face-to-face, one-to-one. That can be in an office at the campus, in a coffee shop, or through the Skype or Google Hang Out. I have given this activity a fairly large number of points because I do feel it is important.

 

Discussion Board

The discussion groups are the main way we’ll get to know one another and one another’s work, so make sure to participate in these forums— in most cases, we’ll have at least one or two discussion forums a week, sometimes more, so be sure to check in both at the start of the week and also mid-week. Because this is our main way to share ideas, these comprise a significant portion of your grade. With that in mind, make sure to give your responses both time and thought. Here are some attributes of a strong discussion response:

Is at least 100 words long

Stays on topic and is focused on the question asked

References the text in specific ways—quotes, paraphrases, etc.

Applies literary terms discussed

Shares specifics in response to a poem, rather than likes/dislikes

 

Literary Events

You’ll attend at least one “live” literary event during the semester—we’ll go over these in greater detail. ACC offers several free literary events during the semester. If you’re off site, you can visit a reading at a bookstore, library, or campus in your area. After attending the event, you’ll write a 1-2 page paper giving some background on the writer and his/her work, along with anything in particular that strikes you about the work. Literary events are a great way to see a writer perform his or her work, and in many cases give insights into a writer’s creative processes.

 

Final Portfolio

The final portfolio consists of revisions made to the ten poems written throughout the course. In completing the portfolio, let your best writing shine through revisions based on instructor comments, peer feedback, and your own careful attention to what is best for the work. The portfolio will also include a short reflection paper discussing your writing process. I’ll expect you to email this document, which consists of a title page, original versions of the poems (drafts), revised versions, reports on literary events, sample pages from your writing workbook, and the reflection paper.

 

 

Policies

Attendance

Part of your grade is dependent on visiting our web site at least twice a week and checking the announcements. This is not a self-paced course—All the units are already posted, with discussion questions and assignments linked to specific due dates. Regular reading and writing of poetry will improve both your comfort level with the genre, along with your confidence. Because we will meet in an online format rather than a traditional classroom, keeping up with the assignments is an important part of the course. Late assignments will be penalized, which can impact your final grade.

 

Withdrawal

You are responsible for your own withdrawal from this class.

 

Incompletes

A grade of incomplete is only considered under extreme or emergency circumstances.

 

Scholastic Dishonesty
Acts prohibited by the college for which discipline may be administered include scholastic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating on an exam or quiz, plagiarizing, and unauthorized collaboration with another in preparing outside work. Academic work submitted by students shall be the result of their thought, work, research or self-expression. Academic work is defined as, but not limited to, tests, quizzes, whether taken electronically or on paper; projects, either individual or group; classroom presentations; and homework.

 

Academic Freedom
Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good. The common good depends upon a search for truth and upon free expression. In this course the professor and students shall strive to protect free inquiry and the open exchange of facts, ideas, and opinions. Students are free to take exception to views offered in this course and to reserve judgment about debatable issues. Grades will not be affected by personal views. With this freedom comes the responsibility of civility and a respect for a diversity of ideas and opinions. This means that students must take turns speaking, listen to others speak without interruption, and refrain from name-calling or other personal attacks.

 

Student Discipline
Classroom and online behavior should support and enhance learning. Behavior that disrupts the learning process will be dealt with appropriately. In serious cases, disruptive behavior may lead to a student being withdrawn from the class. No flaming (hostile, insulting, or rude posts about anyone in or out of this class) of any kind will be tolerated. One offense and your posting privileges will be removed from the class site; two offenses and you will be dropped from the course. ACC’s policy on student discipline can be found in the Student Handbook under Policies and Procedures or on the web at :http://www.austincc.edu/handbook

 

Plagiarism and Cheating

Please review the college policies on plagiarism and cheating. In this class, I assume all the work that is turned in under your name is your original work. An exception will might be come comments in Discussion Boards that include ideas you found through research. Another will definitely be your Analytical Presentation of Your Mentor Poet. In these cases, you will quote or paraphrase accurately and properly document your sources using MLA documentation style. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in zeros for the assignment and possible failure in the class.

 

Office of Students with Disabilities
Each ACC campus offers support services for students with documented physical or psychological disabilities. Students with disabilities must request reasonable accommodations through the Office of Students with Disabilities on the campus where they expect to take the majority of their classes. Students are encouraged to do these three weeks before the start of the semester. Students who are requesting accommodation must provide the instructor with a letter of accommodation from the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD) at the beginning of the semester. Accommodations can only be made after the instructor receives the letter of accommodation from OSD.

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About lymangrant

Lyman Grant is a professor of creative writing and humanities at Austin Community College. He has work at ACC since 1978. He is the author or editor of two textbooks, two books relating to Texas literature, three volumes and a chapbook of poetry. Recently he traveled the United States for a year in a 34-foot RV 5th wheel trailer with his wife and two younger sons.