We’re in the final week of classes for the MFA, and what follows is an excerpt from the forms class (there’s also a class on the history of prosody), that I sent out to the students a few days ago. Over the course of the two semesters in the meters / stanzas / lyrical forms / lyrical genres sequence our students read, scanned, read about (i.e. history and theory) and imitated every single type of lyrical emanation listed below — and the results now coming in are astonishing (wish I could post some of them here…but that’s up to the students themselves…). It’s tremendously inspiring to see this curriculum at work in the poetry of the students. Now that they are working on the genres and know their meters, stanzas and lyrical forms, they are sending things like iambic tetrameter sonnet madrigals, and epistolary ceremonial blank verse, and so on…it’s quite a ride. Here’s the excerpt from my post, which shows what we’ve done, and in what order:
As we come to the last week of our work in this course and take on Odes and Pastoral, I look back with astonishment over what you have accomplished in a single year in the craft sequence on lyrical poetry. Consider:
Anglo-Saxon Strong Stress Verse
Stress-Based Imitations of Classical Meters
Venus and Adonis Stanzas
Of course, we haven’t worked as deeply on every single one of these as on every other – but we’ve done many of the major ones and you now know how to go after more.
Looking at what the students are writing, I have that wonderful feeling that, as a teacher, at least in this realm and at this level, I’m making myself less and less necessary — and that when these students arrive in David Yezzi’s classes on narrative poetry and dramatic poetry next year…they’re going to be ready. Indeed, many of them are more than ready to start sending poems out and you should start looking for them in print soon.
David J. Rothman