3rd Semester Reading List

I’m working with Joan Larkin this semester, and am so excited to be doing so. I have to write a long critical essay, in my case looking at 2 or 3 sonnet sequences. I’ll be studying scansion and meter (which I will learn, yes I will!) and reading Dickinson and May Swenson.

Spring 2010 Study Plan

Packet One

Reading to narrow down which poems to explore in critical essay paper on poems within a sequence:

“21 Love Poems” Adrienne Rich
Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons Marilyn Hacker
The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan
She Heads into the Wilderness Macari
Eye of the Blackbird McFadden
American Sonnets Stern
Blackbird and Wolf Cole
Holy Sonnets Donne

Begin scansion study using Ciardi How Does A Poem Mean, Stravinsky “The Phenomenon of Music”, Langston Hughes The Book of Rhythms

Packet Two

Read: Dickinson, especially the 1862 poems, Rich “Vesuvius at Home,” and selections from either/or:
White Heat by Brenda Wineapple
Emily Dickinson: My Wars are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger
Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson’s Life by Aife Murray

For Critical Essay: readings from Penguin Book of the Sonnet, essays on the sonnet from Finch Exaltation of Form or other craft essays to be determined

Packet Three

Read: May Swenson, from New & Selected Things Taking Place and The Complete Love Poems.
Sue Russell “A Mysterious and Lavish Power” from The Kenyon Review
Alicia Ostriker essay from Body My House

Packet Four

Read: selected sequences from packet one not used in the critical essay, titles to be determined


The first time

I read this at the final student reading at my third Drew residency. It felt so good to speak it, to inhabit it, that I know the poem is done, after many many drafts and re-visions.

The first time,

in the Rittenhouse Radisson, was to
be crazy hot, me and her and her girl-
friend who even then was hiding the blood
she coughed up. I kissed one and then the other,
the first time, when we still worried about
jealousy. The first time she hid her blood-
stained panties in the tangled sheets for the
first time. She howled and whooped, each hand deep in
a competing cunt, the first time, three days
after the report said melanoma.
We were innocent, the first time. We had
more hands than Kali but not enough to
shield liver and lungs and spine. The first time
we had a great time, time we would not have.