*Please follow this page for the most updated version of the schedule. Use Canvas for mini-assignments (homework) and for PDF documents required for reading homework and etc.

Weekly Structure

Before Tuesday: Prepare ahead: Reading Homework, Canvas Mini-Assignment (due by 8am Tuesday)

Tuesdays:  In-Class: write/discuss homework and assignments, writing workshops,  presentations

Before Thursday: Prepare ahead: Bring writing to class on paper (creative work, reading responses, making connections, reflections — as assigned on Tuesdays in class. If you miss class on Tue. you will have to get the details for the Thursday assignments from someone else in class. In order to keep up on assignments, my best advice is that you come to every class meeting.

Thursdays:  In-class: write/discuss homework and assignments, writing workshops, presentations

Schedule: you will need to access our class blog page and our class Canvas page for updated assignments and details. See and

Tue 9/8  Introduction: Syllabus, Course Policies, What is CRTW 201 and What to Expect

Thur 9/10   Read: the introductory Poetry Packet ; Bring: locate examples in any of the poems of at least 4 of the poetry terms below; bring this with you, typed and printed, to class.

Section I: Poetry (4 weeks)

Terms: imagery, metaphor/simile, concrete detail, line break/enjambment, alliteration, sound, rhythm, rhyme/meter, stanza, connotative/denotative, syntax, juxtaposition, form/content, show vs tell,

etc: __________________________

Readings: Bernstein “Difficult Poetry” (pdf); Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (chapters:       ); Poetry Packet; Sonnets; P. Smith, Blood Dazzler

 Tue 9/15

Before Class Read: Bernstein “Difficult Poetry” (pdf); Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (chapters:  Introduction through Obsessions; PDF in Canvas Files if you don’t yet have the book but please make sure to get the book for future reading)

Prepare: watch Bernstein read from Attack of the Difficult Poems

and How to read a Poem

Canvas (go to Canvas Assignments and respond to the following by 8am on Tue.) What can we learn from reading and engaging with “difficult poetry”? How does Bernstein change your idea of what poetry is or can do? Reflect on one poem from the Poetry Packet, in particular, describe how the language in the poem is used descriptively or vividly. Discuss one idea that struck you from the Goldberg reading and explain why.


Thur 9/17

In-class writing and discussion; bring all materials from Tue. with you to class as well as your 20-word poems.

Tue 9/22

Sonnets and other Poetic forms

Before Class Read: Poetry Packet: Sonnets

Prepare: Do some research on the Sonnet form: what is a Sonnet? What specifically does a Shakespearean Sonnet look, sound, feel like?

Canvas due by noon Tue 9/22: compare the Shakespeare and Berrigan sonnets; what is similar and different in terms of form, structure, language, vocabulary, content? What did you learn about Sonnets from your research?

for Thur homework: write 2 sonnets, one in a traditional form and one in a contemporary (non) form; open to interpretation, be creative, use concrete detail, imagery, metaphor and play with sound (whether you are using rhyme and meter or not)


Thur 9/24
** Meet in the HALLE Library room  G07B (computer classroom) at 3:30.
We will work on setting up the blogs and talking about the e-portfolio assignment during class time.

  1. set up a blog: wordpress or blogger; links to instructions:

wordpress: (and start a blog) (make sure to choose a free layout and say no to any questions that ask you if you want to pay for service; just use the free blog service)


2. create a static front page with a welcome note and a posts page for posting responses (see instructions:



*start working on the blog set-up with the static front page, and a posts page… we’ll have a few assignments to post onto the blog coming up soon…

*when you have the blog with pages set up, write a post on your posts page that is a reflection with your experience with the sonnets (and the poems in general). What kinds of things did you notice/think about while reading all of the different kinds of poems from the packets, how was your experience writing the 20 word and sonnet poems? How is your thinking about poetry the same or different than before you read and discussed and wrote these poems?


Tue 9/29

For Class: Begin reading Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler (1st half)

Prepare: watch the first 15 min of this video on Katrina:

Read this:   Documentary Poetics – handout on documentary poetics (pdf)

Optional: watch part 1 of When the Levees Broke

Canvas: What is documentary poetics? How is this book like a documentary film, a news program? How is the “news report” made different through the poems?

Post your blog site URL in Discussions (under Links to Blog Sites; open and “reply” to post your blog address) in Canvas. You should have written the reflection (see above assignment in 9/24) on your posts page.


Thur 10/1

Workshop: bring all of the poems you have written so far typed and printed; we’ll work on poetry workshop guidelines, in groups, during class

Bring your reflection (in-class writing assignment 9/29) on two Blood Dazzler poems to class, typed and printed

Poetry writing for Tue : find a current news story and write 2 poems in different forms about that, or using the story as the material. You can use and rearrange language from an article, creatively or from multiple articles…


Tue 10/6

For Class: Continue Reading Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler (pgs 38-end) and pay attention
especially to the different styles/forms of poems (re: our previous class discussion).

Prepare: Watch the video of Smith’s poem “34” below:


Prepare for in-class writing: How is Smith using poetic form to express emotion here? What is the emotion(s), how does she show vs tell that?

Homework: Documentary Poem #3: find another specific article about a current news event, (the same or different from your previous news poem article) do some more research if necessary (optional). Write a new poem in which you show an emotion or perspective on the issue. You can reference the issue and even include some text from the article (in quotation marks or italics) where it is useful, but don’t explain, tell, or summarize. Write a poem that includes imagery, concrete and sensory detail, metaphor, and elements of musicality (sound, rhythm, flow but not rhyming unless it is crucial to the presentation/structure of the poem).

Thur 10/8

Bring sonnets, documentary poems (your own; typed and printed) and Blood Dazzler to continue discussion.

homework: write one more poem: imitate or respond to a poem in Blood Dazzler in poem form; think about how she uses strong images and descriptive, detailed, concrete language and bring some of this into your poem…how you imitate or respond is totally open to interpretation.


Tue 10/13

in-class wriitng, discussion, workshopping; bring your revised poems to share again.


Section II: Fiction (4 weeks)

Terms: Point of View (POV), plot, character, setting, situation, dialogue, narrative, verb tense, postmodernism, avant-garde, form/content, show vs tell, etc: _________________________

Readings: from Biting the Error: writers explore narrative; Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

(chapters:     ); Fiction Packet; Shange “Indigo”; Burke, “Jesus Out to Sea” (post-Katrina fiction)


Thur 10/15

Poetry Portfolio Due: see assignment in Assignment Sheet tab above and bring your typed and printed, hard copy portfolio to class.

Read ahead: PDF (Canvas) from Biting the Error: writers explore narrative

PDF (Canvas)  fiction packet 1 short shorts

Prepare: watch/listen to this audio about writer Kathy Acker:

Canvas mini-assignment (due by noon Thur): Write about 2-3 quotes from the Biting the Error PDF in relation anything from the short fiction packet. Write 2-3 paragraphs using specific examples and comprehensive discussion.


Tue 10/20

no class meeting: assignment TBA

read: (book) Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones chapters: “Man eats car” to “One Plus One is a Mercedes Benz”

write: Write a blog reflection in which you discuss 2-3 specific examples from Goldberg, any elements of your own writing, and any connections to 2-3 other class readings. Write 2-3 comprehensive paragraphs. Post the URL to the Blog Reflection Assignment in Canvas


Thur Oct 10/22

Meet in Library room G07B to work on e-portolios.


Tue Oct 10/27

Read Ahead and bring texts to class:

PDF (Canvas) from Biting the Error: writers explore narrative; PDF (Canvas)  fiction packet 1 short shorts

Prepare: watch/listen to this audio about writer Kathy Acker:

Fiction:     Shange “Indigo”; Buzzati, “The Falling Girl” (all PDFs in Canvas)

*in-class writing and discussion on character: finish the in-class writing and bring this on Thur to discuss

Fiction Writing Exercise (bring this on Thur):

*Make a list of four qualities/characteristics that describe a character real or imagined. Place that character in a scene and write the scene so that the qualities are conveyed through significant detail. Use no generalizations and no judgments. No word on your list should appear in the scene. Use detail and description to SHOW the qualities through the scene and the actions of the character. Then turn the scene into a story with character(s), situation, setting, and etc.


Thur Oct 10/29

Read Ahead and bring texts to class:

Fiction:   [Marcus, from The Singing Fish](optional)

Foos, “The Blue Girl”  (required)  (all PDFs in Canvas)

*Type and Bring the 4 qualities fiction writing and the previous fiction writing exercise: describe an idea, feeling, or emotion in detail without using the word for that idea or feeling.

*Bring the In-class writing from Tue to class to discuss


Tue 11/3

Read Ahead and bring texts to class:

Burke, “Jesus Out to Sea”

Lamott on Polariods, Plot, Character

Burroway Writing Fiction (all PDFs in Canvas)

Come prepared to do In-class writing: write about two important points from Lamott and two from Burroway and discuss two examples from any of the fiction stories (Burke, Foos, [Marcus], Buzzati, Shange) in relation to Lamott or Burroway.


Thur 11/5

Group Fiction Workshop Assignment. See assignment sheet. Meet with your group and follow the instructions. You have the whole class period. If everyone in your group agrees you can change to a different location; or stay in the class if everyone prefers. Please complete the Canvas reflection assignment on the Group Workshop Assignment after you meet with your group.


Section III:          Presentations  see assignment sheet for individual student presentations on poetry + fiction + reading/writing

Book Publishing Project see assignment sheet


Tue 11/10
Presentations: See Assignment Sheet; everyone will do their presentations during class on this day.


Thur 11/12

In-class writing, workshopping fiction


Tue 11/17

Fiction discussion con’t TBA


Thur 11/19

Fiction Portfolio Due

begin discussion of Creative Essay and electronic portfolio


Tue 11/24

Handmade Book Project Due

Read Essay Packet Fall 2015 (in Canvas Files) and Writing Creative Nonfiction pages 160-175 (in Canvas Files); use these to help you develop and revise your own creative essay (see assignment: what is a word worth?)




Section III: Creative Essay and electronic portfolios

Terms: perspective, message/insight/reflection, language, form/content, genre, show vs tell,

etc. _______________________

Readings: Cooper (Introduction to In Short essay collection); Dillard, “Lenses”; (etc.? short essays____); from Rose, One Dead in Attic (post-Katrina essays/writing)


Tue 12/1

Meet in Library room G07C: Blog Reflection Writing, pages, additional media

Come prepared to discuss Essay Packet Fall 2015 (in Canvas Files) and Writing Creative Nonfiction pages 160-175 (in Canvas Files); use these to help you develop and revise your own creative essay (see assignment: what is a word worth?)


Thur 12/3

Blog Reflection 3 due. Write about Creative Essays. What characteristics does an essay have? How is it similar to or different from poems and stories? How do you see poetry and fiction relating to (or playing into) creative essays. Think about the progression over the semester from poetry to fiction to essay in terms of your own reading and writing, and discuss how you see the connections and how these come together in your own experience of creative essays? Use examples from your own writing or texts we have read.

Post this to your blog and then upload the link in Canvas Assignments (Blog Reflection 3).


Tue 12/8

Meet in Library room G07B to continue working on final portfolios


Thur 12/10

*Final E-Portfolio due on Canvas by 11pm

Bring a hard copy of your final creative essay to class, complete and revised. Follow the guidelines below to review and revise before class to bring your best version:

What is a Word Worth: original freewrite on your word, group written freewrites on your word that they gave you, research your word, follow the assignment sheet

–turn this into an essay, 4-5 pages, cohesive narrative or in sections that are revised and refined. –Bring a typed and printed final copy to class on Thur 12/10

Consider the following once you have a draft, and then revise to make the essay stronger and more dynamic:

Does the essay offer insights that go beyond the obvious and offer original observations? How so? Did you learn something new from reading the essay? What? Why not?

Does this essay go beyond the singular and personal? Is it thoughtful and does it go beyond the summary of a particular experience or event? Can you offer suggestions for more layering, for helping the essay to include more kinds of details and information to make it deeper and more thoughtful?

Discuss how the essay incorporates detail, description, and vivid language to show the ideas and feelings presented. Give suggestions for making the language and presentation stronger.

What memorable impression does the conclusion, or ending, of the essay leave?