an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

. .


Pima Community College, West Campus
Instructor: Gina Franco
Term: Summer 2008, July 7th - August 08
Meeting time: MW 5:30pm - 9:50pm
WRT 215, 3 credit hours, CRN: 31358

Advanced Poetry Writing

Course Description:

Catalog outline: “Advanced poetry writing workshop. Includes continued focus on techniques of writing, evaluation and critical responses to poetry, and original writing. Also includes more intensive study of contemporary poets and poetry. Prerequisite(s): WRT 125 or 205 with a C or better. Consent of instructor is required to enroll in this course.”

Our goals: We will attempt to discover something about what a poem is—the shapes it takes on, the ways in which it forms and organizes itself—through a deeper consideration of its essential crafts, of its movements and actions, and of its ways of speaking. We will make our way through a look at the architecture of the genre in time and history, through the shape-shifting artistry of poetic resources available to the mind of the poet, and through the play-work of sculpting poems of our own. To this end, for the next five weeks we will read, write, and talk poetry.

Required texts and materials:

The Portable Poetry Workshop, Jack Myers
• A bound, comfortably-sized notebook to serve as your “commonplace book” (preferably an unlined perfect-bound sketchbook)
• A 3-ring binder in which to organize and submit your final portfolio of writing
• Photo-copied handouts provided by the instructor

Suggested texts:

Glass, Irony and God, Anne Carson
The Good Thief, Marie Howe
Deepstep Come Shining, C. D. Wright
Dictionary of Poetic Terms, Jack Myers and Don C. Wukasch
• a good portable dictionary and/or thesaurus


Commonplace Books: This is an exercise in paying attention to what captures your attention. I call it a “commonplace book” because it will become a repository for—and a book of—all the things that pervade and enrich the daily course of your life: passing thoughts, recurring dreams, grocery lists, to-do sketches, eavesdroppings, family narratives, philosophical quandaries, portraits of people, of familiar objects, or of urban-desert-poolside-scapes, earliest memories, erotic fantasies, prayers, recipes, budget proposals, poems in process, watercolor still-lifes, photograph montages, knock-knock jokes, song lyrics, architectural wish-lists, quotations from your bedside reading—anything, in short, that has even momentarily captured your attention. I encourage you to draw (or doodle, if that’s what you do), paint, or make crayon entries, to paste magazine or newspaper clippings to your pages, to create collages or mosaics, and/or to press flora into your book. You may also choose to use this book as a personal journal, especially if you already keep one (it may be too time-consuming to keep two separate, concurrent notebooks). And of course you should also use it for class notes. I suggest that you choose an unlined sketchbook to free you from horizontal, linear thinking. You should make daily entries, and bring this book to class since we will often do in-class writing exercises. I will look at these books—though not read them—at the end of the term. Please date your entries to receive credit for them.

Exercises: I will suggest several poetry writing exercises over the course of the term as well as provide you with writing prompts for in-class writing. Most of these exercises will be focused on craft issues. If a particular prompt confuses you or inhibits your ability to write, you may design your own exercise, but I recommend that you try to use the prompts I’ve designed for this course. You will turn in two poems each week for credit. You are responsible for making copies of your own work and for distributing it to the members of the poetry workshop every Monday and Wednesday evening. Please note that late work cannot not be included in our workshop packets! You will receive these copies back from your peers after we have talked about the work in class and after they have written a few concise remarks about your poem. Save this commentary. You will include it in your final portfolio of work.

Workshop: You are not required—but are strongly advised—to show your poems to the class. Why? Because in the long run, you will learn more about writing poems from your attempts to give thoughtful feedback than you will from isolated moments in the workshop when you receive feedback on individual poems. To that effect:

1. You are required to write a few concise constructive remarks on your peers’ work, to sign your commentary, and to return it to your peers after we’ve discussed it in workshop. Your written evaluation should address the following: A.) a brief descriptive account (one or two sentences) of what the poem is doing, formally and thematically. This general description of the poem’s effect I call a “reading.” The second part of your commentary should include B.) an attempt to identify how the poem does what it does by naming some of the poem’s primary devices or “resources.” Resources can range from imagery, figurative language, music, tone, speaker perspective, meter, line, repetition, white space, to rhetorical dimensions, etc. Finally, C.) the third part of your commentary will offer an evaluation of the poem’s strengths or weaknesses in terms of the resources you’ve identified: does the poem deliver what it seems to promise? All three parts of this commentary can be achieved in three sentences or less.

2. You are also required to participate in our workshop discussions. We will attempt to spend about half of our class time talking about your work, sometimes in small groups. The poetry workshop is an opportunity for you to share your work with an audience of your peers, yes; but it is also, and primarily, a chance for you to develop and improve your creative reading skills and your ability to verbalize your thoughts aloud. Your thinking (and writing) will improve by leaps and bounds as you persist in the attempt to put thoughts into words—articulacy is always a skill in development.

Final Portfolio: I will not grade individual poetry assignments. Rather, at the end of the term in a hour-long conference with you, I will grade your final portfolio of work. You will compile and arrange everything you’ve written for this class into a 3-ring binder with dividers. Your portfolio will include a preface and table of contents, all drafts and revisions of your poems, all of your peers’ commentaries, and your commonplace book. During our conference time, I will ask you to write briefly about the strengths and weakness of four or five of your poems and we will discuss your ability to evaluate your own writing. I will look for the amount of effort you’ve put into improving your writing. This work is collaborative and practically diagnostic—it is not a final exam. Be anxious for nothing.

Deadlines: Deadlines are firm. We don’t have time to make up late work in this 5-week course. Therefore, effectively, you have two poems due each week, one Monday and one Wednesday, if you expect to receive feedback from me and from your peers. Otherwise, all eight poems and their revisions are due at the end of the term in your final portfolio.


• All work must be typed and stapled in the left-hand corner. I will not accept unstapled work. PLEASE DO NOT USE PAPERCLIPS. Paperclips confuse me.

• Please turn in clean, neat, professional work. Don’t fold it and put it in your pocket. Don’t use it as a coaster, a napkin, a cat-pillow, a tumbleweed, a carpet, a diaper, or a doodle pad. Don’t turn in anything bearing tooth marks, tire treads, or bloodstains. (Unless, perhaps, it is in your commonplace book.)

• In the top right-hand corner of the first page, put your name, the assignment number, and the date of composition.

• Please title your poems. Even if you don’t want to.

• If your poems are longer than a single page, use page numbers in the top right hand corner starting with the second page. Include your last name in the heading. For example: “Franco 2”

• Use a standard font such as “Times New Roman” in 12 or 13 point.


Your punctuality, preparedness, and participation are all equally essential to your attendance grade. This is a workshop seminar; your presence is necessary. You are allowed one unexcused absence. I require that you inform me as soon as possible—in advance is best—if you are going to be absent for a legitimate purpose. More than one questionable absence can seriously hurt your final grade, so please contact me right away if you are in any sort of trouble with attendance. We will work together to help you complete the course. I will otherwise deduct a half-letter from your final grade for every unexcused absence you accrue. Keep in mind you may withdraw from the course through the withdrawal deadline.


I’m not looking for talent. I’m looking for a superior work ethic. Your grade is based entirely upon the strength of your effort in this class—your evident and consistent commitment to your own work and to the work of your peers. If you complete all eight of the assignments for the course and make daily entries in your commonplace book, you may consider your work average. For above average and superior work, you’ll want to write and revise as much as possible, keep the artistry of your commonplace book close to you, and strive to develop a generous spirit towards your peers’ writing and towards the work we do in this classroom.

50% portfolio of writing: original poems, revisions, preface, and commonplace book
50% workshop participation, discussion, and written commentary on peer work

Academic Integrity:

Don’t cheat yourselves or others, not purposefully, not inadvertently. To take ideas, writing, language, or form from someone else’s work and to pass it off as your own is a serious offense. Academic integrity is at the very heart of my pedagogical mission. You are ethically responsible for your own work and for the proper citation and acknowledgement of others’ work. If you plagiarize any of your writing in this class, you will receive a failing grade for that work as well as potentially for the entire course. It’s not worth it. Again: see me if you’re in trouble.

ADA Policy:

Reasonable accommodations, including materials in an alternate format, will be made available for individuals with disabilities when a minimum of five working days advance notice is given. Contact the West Campus Disabled Student Resources office at 206-6688.


You can arrange an appointment to meet with me at any time during our term. I will try to make myself especially available to you on Mondays and Wednesdays before class. Other times during the week may be more difficult (as I have a long commute to Pima College from my home), but I’m confident we’ll be able to make arrangements, so don’t be afraid to ask.


Week 1: Imagery

July 7

• syllabus and introduction to the course
• David Rivard’s “Earth to Tell of the Beasts”
• Image Logic handout
• writing exercise: time and image in the poem (the image is a place of rest)
• writing workshop: Myers, Chapter 9, “Workshop Mission Statement” page 310
“Workshop Protocol” page 312

July 9

• Poem #1 due (bring 16 copies to distribute)
• Myers, Chapter 4, “Imagery,” see esp. “Fixed vs. Free Image” page 113
• Robert Hass’s “Spring Drawing”
• writing workshop: Myers, Chapter 9, “Troubleshooting: Typical Problems of Control,” pages 300-10
• writing exercise: “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” Myers, page 57

Week 2: Association and Figurative Language: Metaphor

July 14

• Poem #2 due (bring 16 copies to distribute)
• Myers, Chapter 1, ‘Associational Logic,” pages 18-22
Chapter 2, “Diagram of Correspondences” page 37
Chapter 6, “Controlling Device Poems” pages 191-202
• James Merrill’s “The Octopus”
• Sheryl Luna's "Turn the Other Cheek"
• writing exercise: the image narrative cluster
•writing workshop

July 16

• Poem #3 due (bring 16 copies to distribute)
• Myers, Dictionary: “metaphor”
• Mary Ruefle’s “Wasps’ Nest,” “The Beaver,” “The Rooster”; Marie Howe’s “What the Angels Left”
• writing exercise: the controlling metaphor (or whatever device you want to use) poem
• writing workshop

Week 3: Freedom and Form: the Shape of Poetry

July 21

• Poem #4 due (bring 16 copies to distribute)
• Gerard Manley Hopkins handout: a crash course on the sonnet
• traditional rhyme and stanza: James Merrill’s “The Winter Garden”
• Myers, Chapter 6, “Types of Poems”
• writing exercise: the line is a sound
• writing workshop

July 23

• Poem #5 due (bring 16 copies to distribute)
• Myers, Chapter 5, “Free Verse: Tension” pages 127-135
• Dean Young’s “Sunflower,” Sherwin Bitsui’s “The Skyline of a Missing Tooth”
Ada Limon’s “Drowning in Paradise,” Emmy Perez’s “When Evening Becomes Stellar”
• writing exercise: guided memory
• writing workshop

Week 4: The Master Poet

July 28

• Poem #6 due (bring 16 copies to distribute)
• Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay”
• writing exercise: the nudes
• writing workshop

July 30

• Poem #7 due
• Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay”
• Myers, Chapter 8, “Revision”
• writing exercise: revision
• writing workshop

Week 5: The Master Poet II

Aug 4

• Poem #8 due
• C.D. Wright, from “Deepstep Come Shining”
• TBA (to be decided as a class)
• writing workshop

Aug 6

• writing workshop
• C.D. Wright, from “Deepstep Come Shining”
• TBA (to be decided as a class)



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