Friday, May 24, 2013


This site contains all the course documentation, materials, and assignments for USSY 289E: Poets of Ohio taught by Joshua Ware, Ph.D. during Spring semester 2013 at Case Western Reserve University. Due to the blog format, all information reads in reverse chronological order.

The course, generally speaking, sought to familiarize students with the genre of poetry, first by establishing stylistic, aesthetic, and conceptualize foundations common to contemporary poetry. To do so, we read James Longenbach's The Resistance to Poetry, coupled with individual poems written by a wide variety of Ohio poets.

For the next phase of the course, we read full-length collections by six different Ohio poets. Once they read each collection, students wrote a 2-page response paper that developed connections between the primary text and Longenbach's book. During our class sessions, we discussed their thoughts and ideas about the text. The following session, the poet would come to campus for a reading and a question-and-answer segment. To this end, we attempted to answer the following questions, which the syllabus' course description posed:
Why do poetic texts, both of the present and the past, seem so difficult to read and understand? What writing techniques, strategies, and styles do poets use that make comprehending their work such a challenge? More importantly, why would anyone choose to write in this manner? Through close reading of our primary texts, researching the historical and literary contexts surrounding contemporary poetry, and discussing the art form with each other (as well as with the poets themselves), we will come to a better understanding of how these texts function.
Ultimately, these writing assignments, discussions, readings, and q-&-a sessions offered students several different learning environments in which to engage, think about, and understand contemporary poetry.

This class was also designed to explore and develop the idea of community, specifically local and regional communities that thrive outside of mainstream culture. As the course description in the syllabus also states that:
But more than just acquainting you with this style of writing, our course will highlight the large and dynamic poetry community of Ohio. Luckily for us, many of the poets we will read during the course agreed to visit our class this semester to talk about their work and read their poems. 
To this extent, our course will explore the local and national poetry communities, noting how writers found relationships upon geography, aesthetics, and demographics (just to name a few), using written texts to express emotion, thought, or identity. In order to accomplish these goals, we will read, participate in class discussions, and write extensively about poetry composed by contemporary Ohio poets. Therefore, you will be expected to engage our course texts critically, thinking through the manner in which language operates as a tool for generating and sustaining, as well as undermining, community formation.
It was a goal of this course, then, not just to acquaint students with contemporary poetry, but challenge them to consider about how we can become proactive leaders and supportive members within marginalized communities.

For more information on this course, please explore this blog. You can also check out videos of and commentary by the poets on Vouched Books website by clicking on their names: Mary Biddinger, Phil Metres, Frank Giampietro, Dana Ward, Cathy Wagner, and Sarah Gridley.

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