Debbie Scott and I enrolled in English 402, the Advanced Poetry Workshop III at the College of Charleston (CofC) this semester, and it was a true immersion for twelve or so weeks. We completed the course yesterday. Professor Emily Rosko, author of Prop Rockery and Raw Goods Inventory, couldn't have been any more teacherly--in a good way!--and focused on being sure that her students grew as poets, readers, critics, and students in general. For the course we read--and discussed and wrote commentary on--seven collections of contemporary poetry. We each led a class discussion of one of the books, and we each twice served as one of two critics for workshopping 5-8 poems of a classmate. We wrote at least a poem a week, sometimes in collaboration with a partner. And we critiqued the poems written by our collaboration partner. In other words, we were busy learning!
Here are the books we read: Tracy K. Smith's Life on Mars; Kathleen Peirce's Mercy; Beth Bachmann's Temper; Ann Marie Rooney's Spitshine; Shane McCrae's Mule; Mary Ann Samyn's Inside the Yellow Dress; and Wayne Miller's The City, Our City.
The capstone assignment for the course was to put together a chapbook of poems, of about 15-20 pages, and even to design a cover, write an artist's statement, include a table of contents/dedication/etc. I spent a good part of the last few weeks working on that--and a huge chunk of this past Monday and Tuesday trying to figure out how to sequence the pages correctly so that they could be printed out chapbook size in the right order. The process about drove me nuts; but by cutting and pasting a dummy copy, I finally managed to do it.
Thanks to all the bright young poets in our class for welcoming Debbie and me into their poetry lives--and especially to Emly Rosko for orchestrating and teaching such a wonderfully rich, thought-provoking course.