ENGL 14
Poetry and Kinship Winter 2023

Class Details

The “family unit” is one of the first landscapes we explore in life, responsible for how our world views and identities are built. But how do we reckon with an inherited past that is lost, violent, or wounded? Poets can conjure the past to meet ancestors with joy and curiosity, hold difficult conversations, and reassess their place among the living. This course will take on the vast, intimate, and challenging task of uncovering personal definitions and experiences of kinship, and generating poems which speak to them. Applying experimental exercises and practices in poetry, students will delve into a rewriting of family that is part ethnography, part myth-making, and part self-portraiture. We will consider “home” in all its multitudes – house, city, nation, body – and question our place and responsibility within these communities, real or imagined. Finally, we will move past bloodlines to recognize chosen family as valuable and necessary kin that also nourishes us. Guided by readings of poets like Sharon Olds, Audre Lorde, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Danez Smith, and Ocean Vuong, students will examine how poetic space can be utilized to hold, celebrate, and complicate both personal and collective affinities. Students will contribute to in-class discussion and workshops, provide short reading responses, and compose a collection of poems resulting in a final portfolio.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1125
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Final project or presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: if course becomes over-enrolled, enrollment will be determined by statement of interest
Attributes: SLFX Winter Study Self-Expression

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